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    ‘We must build a culture of innovation & research not a culture of political slogans’ -President at "Momentum Event"

    December 18, 2014

    Full text of the speech made by President Mahinda Rajapaksa at the "MOMENTUM - A Nation Stabilised, Progress Continued," a private sector forum organised by the Professionals for a Stable Sri Lanka in Colombo, Dec. 17, 2014.

    "I Am happy to speak to you at this Momentous Occasion, when the representatives of a major sector of the economic growth those of the private sector the investors, entrepreneurs, economic strategists and those with the courage to face challenges in new terrains of investment meet in the context of the current political campaign.


    It is encouraging to speak to you all this morning when gathered in different locations with the same focus and interest in the country and tell you of my record in leadership of this country which I now seek for a third term and of my plans for the future.


    It is necessary to remember that in November 2005 when I obtained your mandate for my first term our economy was stagnant the country and nation were under grave threat from LTTE terrorism. I had a very clear vision for the nation at that time. The priority and my pledge in my first term of the Presidency was freeing Our Motherland from the clutches of terror.


    You will recall that it was only after delivering on this pledge in full measure achieving peace and launching on reconciliation that I sought a second term.


    The post-conflict focus remains one of creating the platform for rapid social development and economic growth. This included restoring democracy throughout the country while ensuring that peace, security and stability are guaranteed.The very conduct of this election for the presidency is proof of the vibrancy of the democracy that has been restored.


    My vision and action in this second term has been to restore economic stability ensure a major growth of the economy expand investment opportunities and thereby ensure social growth throughout the country.


    A major aspect of this is the Long-term Infrastructure Development that you see in all parts of the country embracing the entire nation from West to East South to North and in the Centre. This covers both urban and rural sectors and seeks the transforming of the country into a place of pride in modern times.


    You fully benefit today from what can only be described as a revolutionary change in our transport network of roads highways and expressways. There is also an accompanying improvement in the rail network. All this speeds up the transport of people and very importantly helps in the speedy transport of goods and produce helping the markets locally and for exports.


    You see that we are building critical infrastructure projects with a clear long-term strategy in ports and airports – with the major developments at Hambantota that is ideally located for new development. The expansion of the Colombo Port and improvement of those at Galle and Trincomalee and the new phase of development at the Katunayake International Airport are all part of this larger development with the best results for the future.


    Another aspect of this all embracing plan of development is the ensuring of uninterrupted and low cost electricity to the entire country through new power projects and the combination of green energy sources such as wind and solar. Sri Lanka can soon take pride as being the land best served by power supply in all of South Asia and will be an example of success in this vital area of progress.


    Together with all this progress and an essential part of it is the transforming of the urban environment to create clean green people friendly and healthy cities and urban locations that give a higher quality of life for our own people which also provides a physically friendly environment for investment in addition to our economic policies.


    All of this combined with our positive economic policies with conducive macroeconomic factors and the concessions for critical private investments both local and from abroad have seen the steady growth of GDP, leading to Sri Lanka achieving and soon exceeding a per capita earnings of US dollars 4,000 by next year Yes the election year when we will harvest part of the success in the previous five years.


    Is this a record that you do not wish to share and be part of?


    The strategies of the government have made you partners in this pattern of progress. All of you share in this progress and have a major role in seeing this develop in the future without diversion into uncertain areas of unknown untried and untested political thinking and practice.


    It is useful to remember that all of this has taken place with a substantial advance in standards and quality of living in the rural sector with the increased intake into universities the good results of Research and Development for rural life and produce improved healthcare services and very important the growth of the Knowledge Sector.Our country is now near 50 percent of IT literacy and will soon reach 75 percent. We have more than 900 active Nenasalas – or Wisdom Centers , which will see the emerging of new thinking among youth new innovators, new inventors and a new creative youth who will contribute to economic growth while stopping the brain drain and also take our knowledge abroad for benefit to our country. They will be the new investment you will be making in the future for the growth of your own ventures.


    Let me remind you with pleasure that I know you will share with me that Sri Lanka and our Nenasala Program was awarded the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation 2014 Access to Learning Award of US dollars 1 million to the e-Library Nenalasa Program in recognition of it providing free access to computers and the Internet to Sri Lankan living in the rural areas to boost digital literacy. I can state with some pride that this program is part of the National Development Policy based on the Mahinda Chinthana.


    At a time like this it is necessary to ask ourselves What of the Future?


    I am very clear on this. Our future vision is to focus on making the maximum use of the good work done so far the peace we have achieved the democracy we have ensured the infrastructure development, we have brought about all continuing to ensure a macroeconomic environment conducive for further growth.


    We must further uplift the urban landscape and empower the villages to further improve the quality of life.


    We must move ahead to create a well disciplined society with the necessity of addressing of issues of good governance that always has room for improvement.


    We must built a culture of innovation and research and not a culture of empty political slogans. We must ensure energy security and promote knowledge and skills of excellence. We musty explore our untapped resources on land and sea expand oil and gas exploration and promote investment in the Small and Medium Sectors while giving the best opportunities for the big entrepreneurs of today and invite more Foreign Direct Investment.


    All of this makes you important Partners in Progress. This gives a greater role in the Private Sector in economic growth. This will make you important facilitators of progress and growth and give you genuine pride in sharing in the progress of Our Motherland.


    These are the challenges I see ahead and these are the challenges that you can fully cooperate towards facing up to and overcoming. These are the challenges that I am glad to share with you giving you the rightful place in the forward march of this nation.

    Let us achieve this future together.


    Let us march ahead with this goal of success for today and the generation ahead."(KH)

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