March 23, 2019

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    Foundation laid to build knowledge based market

    March 15, 2019

    As the National Policies, Economic Affairs Minister, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has laid the foundation to change the entire economic structure of the country. That is why we have taken measures to build a competitive knowledge based market as the hub of the Indian Ocean, Economic Reforms and Public Distribution Non Cabinet Minister Dr. Harsha de Silva said. He made this statement during the committee stage budget debate yesterday.

    National policies, economic affairs, resettlement and rehabilitation, Northern development, vocational training and skills development and youth Affairs expenditure heads were taken up for debate yesterday. “The economic growth rate in 2012 was 9.2% and by 2013 it had crashed to 3.5% and it is still at around 4%. The country is stuck in a middle income trap and much has to be done to come out of it. Therefore, In order to equip the younger generation to face the future we have initiated a loan scheme for those who want to continue their higher studies amounting to Rs. 1.1 million payable in 12 years. They don’t have to pay anything for two years after they obtain their degree,” he said.

    Responding to MP Bandula Gunawardena he said while the previous regime had taken loans for the development of Hambantota at 6.3% while the current government had taken a loan to build the light rail service and the loan to construct the Kelaniya Bridge at only 0.1%. “The problem here is that loans are taken on bullet payment, ISB, Syndicate commercial loans. In 2005 during Mahinda Rajapaksa’s government, commercial interest loans stood at US$ 238.5 million, but by the end of his tenure by the end of 2014, it had shot up to $5024 million by the time we took over. Which means it is 21 times more. This was the outstanding by December 31, 2014. By the end of 2019, the outstanding will be US$ 11,994 million. Over the past four years it has increased by 2.3% in comparison to the increase of 21% during the previous government’s tenure.”

    Similarly, he said there is a lot of work which is being undertaken by the National Policies Ministry, adding that the Northern Province would be developed and more lands will also be released. The government has also taken measures to build more houses, while the Kankesanthurai harbour will also be developed. He noted that the Jaffna water supply project and the Valachchenai Paper factory and several other programmes would also be carried out.

    He noted that prior to the elections Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa spoke much about an electric chair and how if Maithripala Sirisena is elected as the President, he would be taken to the electric chair. “Now he need not worry about is as we have resolved the electric chair matter.”He said instead of looking through coloured glasses all citizens should be accorded similar rights. “That is what our government stands for.”

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