Participating in the Executive of the Year Convention of the Capital Maharaja Organization today (25) he pointed out that the media can play a vital role in the tasks of national development, by taking the latest aspects of progress in science, education, and culture, to the people.
“We meet at a significant point in Sri Lanka's contemporary history. It is a time when we seek to strengthen the peace we have won. A time when we seek to strengthen peace, through understanding and reconciliation,” he said. “It is a time when we are clearly rejecting efforts by interested forces both here and abroad to obstruct reconciliation and pave the way, for continued conflict. We know that such conflict does not help in the task of national development and progress for the entire nation,” the President further said.
Full text of the speech:
It is indeed a pleasure to be present at this 37th Annual Executive of the Year Convention of the Capital Maharaja Organization at a time when we see the vital role the private sector can play in national development.
From the beginnings of the Maharaja Group 84 years ago you have taken many important strides that have brought you to the prominent position in Investment, Manufacture, Research and Development that you are in today.
Recognizing the role of Executives in the progress of a company is indeed most welcome as they form the backbone of a successful business organization. I recall today my participation in your Convention in 1997 when I was the Minister of Labour and Vocational Training. That was when Mr. Nimal Lakshapathiarachchi was your Executive of the Year.
We meet at a significant point in Sri Lanka's contemporary history. It is a time when we seek to strengthen the peace we have won. A time when we seek to strengthen peace, through understanding and reconciliation. It is a time when we are clearly rejecting efforts by interested forces both here and abroad to obstruct reconciliation and pave the way, for continued conflict. We know that such conflict does not help in the task of national development and progress for the entire nation.
While the Government faces these new obstacles to progress the private sector entrepreneurs, and the business community have a major role to pursue with vigour the tasks of development that are available to them, in this new era of peace.
We should not be looking at the next 5 or 10 years in our development horizon. In fact, we must be envisioning the year 2050 as the goal in our march forward to a stable and a democratic country, with sound economic fundamentals. This is why the growth in the private sector is important to all of us. It's a strong partnership between the government and the private sector that can propel us forward, for us think beyond 2020s and 2030s to our stated goal of 2050.
As we enjoy the fruits of peace there are other reasons too for celebration in these times. We saw how the entire country irrespective of community, ethnicity, religion or geographical region celebrated the winning of the World Cup in T20 cricket. Central Bank’s latest report states that our growth last year was as high as 7.3 per cent.This is, continuing a steady rate of growth from a time when we had minus growth.
The World Bank also states that Sri Lanka would continue to grow at 7.3 percent this year as the economy was sustained by new capacity from infrastructure investments and rebuilding after the country’s conflict of 30 long years. It is now accepted by international experts that Sri Lanka is one of Asia’s fastest growing markets standing only behind China. These are reasons for great satisfaction and much promise for the future, although there are people who do not want to acknowledge that we as a country, had moved far ahead.
In this background of economic progress, the Government will continue to provide the necessary economic strategy and infrastructure for the development process where investors both local and foreign can address the issues of progress facing our nation. I wish to remind all our friends here that if there is one underlying factor that contributed to all the development that we see today, it is undoubtedly, the political stability our government has been able to bring about.
I understand that the Capital Maharaja Organization has given a special place to development in Information and Communication Technology – ICT, Media, Entertainment, and Communications. These are areas of special importance, in our strategies for progress.
While agriculture, manufacture and the services sectors, which are the traditional areas of progress, continue to play an important role in development, the world-wide trends today, show the vital role of ICT, Media and Communications. No one can ignore that Sri Lanka has given high and necessary importance to these sectors. This is seen from the rapid increase in computer literacy – that is very close to 50 per cent today.
We have already opened the 751st (seven hundred and fifty first) “Nena Sala” – or Knowledge Centre – that takes Information Technology to the rural sector.// It is one of these Nena Sala managers, a young lady from Suriyaweva, who won the best Telecentre Operator Global award at the First Global Telecentre Awards, held last year in Spain.
The Mahindodaya Vidyalayas that are being established; we will have one thousand (1,000) of them very soon, will provide all facilities through specialized labs for good science education, the newly introduced technology stream, Information Technology, Mathematics and Languages to our school children, throughout the country. My dear Friends, we are not just looking at infra-structure, but also investing heavily in our human capital to make it world class.
I strongly believe that the Media can play a vital role in the tasks of national development, by taking the latest aspects of progress in science, education, and culture, to the people. This is even more important than the role of the media in entertainment, in which too, your Group has made a mark today.
I see the development of these sectors as essential to having a well informed society. Good information provided by those who have a good knowledge of communications and the new trends in media, particularly social media, are essential for the progress of democracy and the advancement of society. We have a commitment to ensuring such progress for the well being and future of the Sri Lankan society.
In all of these, the media, particularly the electronic media, has an enormous social responsibility to ensure that our long standing moral values, nurtured through centuries are fostered, and that they are not harmed in any way. We have a culture which is like a thread that binds the society together and all forms of media need to strengthen it rather than contribute towards destroying it.
Sri Lanka enjoys a strategic geographic location in Asia. What we seek to do, is make this country a strategic hub in Knowledge and Science, in our region of South Asia and in Asia. To achieve this, we must encourage innovation among our youth, innovation that comes with the combination of traditional thinking and modern concepts. We see the need for innovation that can contribute to sustainable development, development that protects the environment and nature.
Investment in development should give priority to this aspect of progress. Local and foreign investors, Sri Lankan investors and their foreign partners, those who are looking at new ventures in our country, should lay emphasis on innovation. They should contribute to encouraging innovation among our youth. This is the path to future progress in a land that will be a new focus of development in Asia.
Talking of investment I would urge all our top business leaders to look beyond our shores. We have a number of locally created global brands and businesses that can match any competition. We have our local companies undertaking large scale power projects in the African continent, apparel industry that has spread its wings to many South Asian destinations, and many more business ventures that have established themselves well, outside our country.
In conclusion I congratulate the new Executive of the Year and wish all of the executives present here every success in the future, success in helping to take your company and our country to greater achievements and progress, in the coming years.
May you all be Blessed by the Noble Triple Gem.