June 25, 2019
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    Govt. plans to create an affluent middle class: Minister

    March 25, 2019

    Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera said the refinery project was only part of the Government’s larger plans to increase exports and improve FDI to make development accessible to all Sri Lankans and create an affluent middle class. Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera at the ceremony yesterdaySpeaking at the inauguration of the $3.8 billion refinery project in Hambantota, Samaraweera said trade and investment must come together so that Sri Lanka can grow without depending on debt, as was done in the past.

    “Our hope is to extend our trade activities in order to become the economic centre point in the Indian Ocean. We have plans to increase investment and improve ease of business in order to attract more investments,” he said. The Minister described the project as a major investment initiative that is the biggest single investment in Sri Lanka since Independence. It was appropriate to start the project on Sunday as it was also the 70th Birthday of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.
    “While wishing a very happy birthday to him, let me also take this opportunity to invoke him renewed strength to provide many more years of service to our country. After years of perseverance and dedication, his vision for Sri Lanka is bringing fruition, I must say.” “The two major investments that are being initiated in the fields of petroleum and cement manufacturing will no doubt change the investment portfolio of the Hambantota area in time to come. It will diversify the investments in Hambantota, which in turn will give a strong message that we welcome investments from multiple sources to Sri Lanka.”
    Samaraweera pointed out that Hambantota was the most under-developed area of the country in the past but argued it was now rapidly transforming itself into a 21st century metropolis. He thanked Development Strategies and International Trade Minister Malik Samarawickrama for bringing in the investment to Sri Lanka.
    “These new investment projects launched in Hambantota worth $4 billion dollars, I believe, are a new beginning in our economy. I believe that if the profits can’t be reaped by the people of the country, then the investments were not good enough. We are still paying the heavy interests of the foreign debt taken before we came to power in 2015. We have created a platform for more Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to come into the country without having to take more foreign debt,” he said.
    For a country to develop, it requires both FDI and exports, and the Government had been successful in delivering on both those fronts, Samaraweera emphasised. He also pointed out that 2018 was the year when Sri Lanka recorded the highest amount of FDI and exports.
    “By 2018, the annual exports of our country increased up to $11,900 million and FDI up to $2.4 billion because of our efforts. In the history of Sri Lanka, 2018 was the year that marks the most number of investments. The investment projects launched today will attract larger numbers too. The Prime Minister’s vision for the economy is to strengthen the people in order to increase the rate of development in the country and the GDP. We want to eradicate poverty and create a new emerging middle class.”


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