The strong and close links between Sri Lanka and China goes back many centuries. Historical chronicles record ancient contacts by land and sea that existed between our two countries.
In this context, Sri Lanka is happy to support the proposal by China, to build the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, having been located on the ancient maritime route between the east and west as recognised in the Mahinda Chintana - Vision for the Future.
At this juncture, it is an honour to have Your Excellency at the inauguration of Phases II and III of the first coal power project to have been built in Sri Lanka, which has been realised through the generous assistance of the Chinese Government.
This power project in particular has assisted the power system to expand across the country by 900MW, enabling a total capacity of 3,900MW with the daily consumption of electricity being 2,050MW.
Undoubtedly, this project has contributed to the realisation of the aim in the 10 year economic development plan of the Government Mahinda Chintana - Vision for the Future - to speed up further economic development in our country. The commissioning of the 1st phase in March 2011, which started when the world oil price exceeded US$ 100 per metric ton, facilitated the stabilisation of the rising cost of our power generation.
The current commissioning of the 2nd and 3rd phases of the power project will bring down the cost of electricity in our country. I am happy to announce that this year all households in Sri Lanka will have electricity in their homes and this project will ensure a quality supply of electricity to all my people.
Your country’s assistance in this regard, Excellency, has enabled me to realise a pledge to my people, for which I am thankful.
In appreciation of your Excellency's visit and enormous contribution to reduce cost of electricity and energy, I now announce that electricity bills of the people will be reduced by 25 percent with effect from today. I also announce that price of kerosene will be reduced by Rs. 20 per litre, price of petrol by Rs. 5 per litre and price of diesel by Rs. 3 per litre today. This will benefit all households in Sri Lanka.
During the official talks held today, we discussed and exchanged views on our close and strong friendship and the multi-faceted links that bind our two great nations. The elevation of our bilateral ties to that of a Strategic Cooperative Partnership has made a positive contribution to the advancement of our relations. The Plan of Action signed by the two Ministers of External Affairs will make the proposals we have discussed, a reality.
China’s contribution to the economic growth of Sri Lanka has been unprecedented. Our economy is growing at 7.8 percent this year. The launch of negotiations for the Free Trade Agreement between Sri Lanka and China, which will commence tomorrow, will provide a more balanced and sustainable development in our bilateral trade and economic cooperation, once finalised.
The launch of the Colombo Port City project, which will also take place tomorrow, is expected to change the skyline of our city. This will be the largest single foreign direct investment of around US$ 1.5 billion for the land development that has potential to attract around US$ 5 billion from all over the world.
Let me conclude by stating that the people of Sri Lanka join me in expressing deep appreciation to China for the assistance in a number of fields and being a sincere and trusted friend who has supported Sri Lanka at all times.