More for masses says modest Mahinda

Tuesday, 10 April 2012 01:38 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

In an apparent sign of modesty as well as looking beyond mere numbers, President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday whilst acknowledging the highest ever GDP growth of 8.3% last year, emphasised that it was important for ordinary people especially those in rural areas to reap fruits of development.

“To achieve the highest ever economic growth in post-independence era amidst global shocks last year is something we can genuinely be happy about. This growth has been broad based across all sectors. As a Government, it is important to ensure that ordinary people are enjoying the benefits and how the State should act and strategise for same,” said President Rajapaksa who is also Finance Minister after receiving the first copy of the Central Bank’s 2011 Annual Report.

“Benefits of impressive economic victories achieved must flow to ordinary people and it is our responsibility to ensure development encompasses all areas,” the President said, adding that initiatives such as Gama Neguma, Divi Neguma, Maga Neguma were all aimed at this objective.

President Rajapaksa made it a point to reiterate that the achievement of 8%growth in two consecutive years was also a direct result of the boost derived from the end of the war and terrorism in the country.

He said that North and East areas were benefiting from massive infrastructure development whilst fisheries and paddy sectors in the former war-torn areas were thriving. “Opposition politicians with petty agendas when they go to the North with blinders on don’t see this,” he said. The development of Sri Lanka as a hub for five major activities namely maritime, aviation, commercial, energy and knowledge was also stressed. “We started on infrastructure development and modernising the economy whilst fighting a war,” the President added.

Having highlighted success in the reduction in poverty at village and estate levels as well as unemployment in the country, Rajapaksa, at the 2012 Annual Report launch ceremony attended by bankers and business leaders said that, “We can reduce these further and we can make the economic and business environments more conducive.”

The President also said that Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) were flowing in, with a record one billion dollars achieved in 2011. “Our policies and programmes have created new opportunities for both foreign and local investors,” he said.

Speaking about terrorism and uncertainty that forced the brain drain in the past, he noted that post-war skilled and qualified Lankan expats are returning to their motherland. “We have to make the best use of this valuable human capital,” Rajapaksa added.

Though the Central Bank has revised down GDP growth for 2012 to around 7.2 per cent, President Rajapaksa assured that the Government will endeavour to sustain high growth in the future. “We have been able to grow midst external shocks because of our prudent economic management,” he pointed out adding, “Today there is better understanding between the Central Bank and the Government with regard to the development agenda and the people’s aspirations.”

“We haven’t abandoned our quest to make Sri Lanka the wonder of Asia under the Mahinda Chinthana. We are on a firm path of prosperity and all must spontaneously become partners and contributors,” the President emphasized.