- State Minister says SL has proven it is not a thin market
- Confident foreign investors will return in future
- But onus on local investors to use momentum to push for growth
- Pledges Govt. will set framework for $ 150 b economy in next few years
By Uditha Jayasinghe
State Minister Ajith Nivaard Cabraal addressing the 41st National Conference of Chartered Accountants - Pic by Upul Abayasekara
Market performance has proven Sri Lanka’s depth and, together with other Government policies, sets the stage for the country to aspire to the next level of development, State Minister of Finance, Capital Markets and State Enterprise Reforms Ajith Nivard Cabraal said yesterday.
The State Minister was the Chief Guest at the 41st National Conference of Chartered Accountants, titled ‘Abnormal: Navigating Through Shattered Norms’. Speaking at the event Cabraal argued that the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) through its recent impressive run has proved that the assumption of Sri Lanka’s share market having little depth is a “fallacy”.
“Of the stock market I don’t need to tell you much. We do not need to wait for foreigners, Sri Lanka has enough depth. When I met with stakeholders a while ago I pointed out to them that Sri Lanka has Rs. 10 trillion in bank deposits and we should make use of that.
Sri Lanka has typically been described as a thin market, but that fallacy has now been completely crushed.”
The State Minister noted that foreign investors will return to the market at some point in the future but it was up to Sri Lankan investors to use this momentum to move the country towards the next level of development.
“I like the butterfly theory. The fluttering of a butterfly’s wings may seem like the gentlest of things but over time the flapping of the wings can lead to the momentum that ultimately becomes a storm. In a more benign fashion we can compare this to the steps we are taking today. The way we are educating our children or moving towards development or doing business. But all these things will cumulatively take us forward.”
He emphasised that in this regard the Government has already started laying the groundwork by investing in infrastructure, and working to set in place the right regulatory and policy environment to attract investors and create new opportunities for Sri Lankans. He stressed that the Government was confident Sri Lanka could reach a $ 150 billion economy, and was dedicated to establishing the foundation to reach that goal in the next four years.
“We have to aim for the $ 150 billion economy. We need to have a massive amount of investment to come in, and over the next few years we are developing the rules, the platforms and the governance systems for investors to see Sri Lanka as a viable destination. We are developing the infrastructure for people to do business better. With all that we would not be abnormal anymore. We would be on par with developed countries with $ 7,000 per capita income and the chance for people to live better lives.”