Colombo’s is one of the best-performing stock exchanges in the world and the economy is one of the fastest-growing in a fast-growing region, with growth predicted to hit seven per cent this year, the Globe and Mail has reported in its 19 May issue.
“And the Government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa is eager to tell potential investors all about the peace dividend just waiting to be collected in Sri Lanka,” it added.
“There is an economic renaissance in Sri Lanka,” said External Affairs Minister Prof. G. L. Peiris to the Globe and Mail.
And no wonder, he added – since his is a country “abundantly blessed by nature,” with 96 per cent literacy, where English is widely spoken, and where the Government is funnelling money into infrastructure development. There are so many tourists pouring into the country that local operators can’t build hotels fast enough to house them all, he claimed. Fortunately, foreign investment is also pouring in, he said, including a huge investment from Hong Kong-based Shangri-La Asia Limited to build a 500-room luxury hotel and apartment complex on the Colombo seafront, said Peiris, who is on a tour of the region.
Economic development is underway in the north. He talked about new initiatives to develop the fisheries and fruit exports from the north. He talked about bank loans for small business. He described “a country coming alive again” and said that economic development in the north is a priority for the Government in order to ensure that all communities feel the benefit of peace. Some of the drivers of development in the north will be the Tamil expatriates, he said. The names on the manifests of flights coming in to Colombo show that plenty of Tamils are coming back, he added.
“We do not wish to demonise or isolate the expatriates – we wish to engage them,” he said. The Government is inviting them home to rebuild: “We say, ‘don’t you want to associate yourselves with the very refreshing developments taking place in our country? Be part of the exercise to make your life better.’”
“The opportunity is uniformly available,” Minister Peiris told The Globe and Mail. “It is available to all. There is no level of discrimination.”