President Rajapaksa of Sri Lanka: Sri Lankan Economy Showing Signs of Recovery Following Five Year Anniversary of Tsunami

January 13, 2010

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka, January 13 /PRNewswire/ — This time of year is a
period for reflection for many people around the world. For the people of Sri
it brings back acutely painful memories, but also for the first time in
many years a genuine sense of hope.

On the 26th December 2004, one of the worst natural disasters in modern
times befell our country and we required aid and other support from the world
on an unprecedented scale.

The tsunami that struck the length of Sri Lanka’s eastern coast and
enwrapped the island had a devastating effect. In a matter of moments, over
30,000 people had lost their lives and a further 20,000 were injured. More
than half a million people were displaced with in excess of 100,000 homes

Those who survived or who came to assist in the aftermath, from across
Sri Lanka and from abroad, will never forget the horror the ocean wrought on
the island that day.

Thankfully those events are in the past. And for the people in the north
and east that survived and gradually rebuilt their lives with the assistance
of the international community, NGOs and Sri Lanka’s own Reconstruction and
Development Agency (RADA), it can finally be said that the future holds great
promise. For our people are now living without the threat of terrorism for
the first time in over a quarter of a century.

This closing of a chapter will bring improvements in quality of life
beyond many Sri Lankan’s living memories.

For a country that has managed average economic growth of over 6% since
2004, despite our difficulties, it is clear that our promise is significant,
something that is beginning to be recognised internationally.

In July the Government issued a US$500 million sovereign bond that
received the highest oversold subscription of the year, over 13 times
oversubscribed, while both Fitch and S&P have revised their ratings from
‘negative’ to ‘stable’.

Analysts are now excitedly talking about Sri Lanka as the next Singapore
and our Central Bank is putting in place comprehensive plans to make this
vision a reality.

We are beginning to see large investment funds plough money into the
country, not as an act of generosity, but because they see the potential that
is being unlocked in Sri Lanka.

Over the whole of Sri Lanka, massive infrastructure projects are taking
place, from the construction of one of the largest deep water ports in the
Indian Ocean, at Hambontota in the south, to the establishment of the
Trincomalee Investment and Tourist Zone in the north east. Formerly at the
heart of our troubled areas, Trincomalee is now marked out as a major
potential commercial and industrial hub in the South Asian region.

Moreover Sri Lanka’s people have talent. Our potential as an outsourcing
destination is already being recognised and you only have to look at the
success of our diaspora, doctors and engineers, lawyers and accountants, to
know what extraordinary capabilities our people have.

We also have a thriving garment industry that not only provides the West
with value goods, but also enshrines the highest standards of labour

We have vast untapped potential in our fertile agricultural lands,
particularly in the north.

And there’s tourism. Overseas visitors have always flocked to Sri Lanka,
but never in the numbers that we could have achieved without the threat of
terrorism. With this now at an end, we have set an annual target of 2.5
million visitors by 2016. We encourage people from around the world to come
and experience the unrivalled Sri Lankan spirit of hospitality.

So, five years on from the terrible events of 2004, now is truly an
exciting time for our country. We are creating a land of opportunity for all
Sri Lankans and no-one will be left behind. Aid is no longer the priority for
us. We offer investment opportunities, an island of beauty and tranquillity
to be enjoyed, not pitied.

Sri Lanka is ready to make its mark. Our troubles are behind us and we
look forward to welcoming the world. As scientist and writer Arthur C. Clarke said of his adopted home, this is the best place in the world from which to
view the universe.

Written by: President Rajapaksa of Sri Lanka

SOURCE President Rajapaksa of Sri Lanka

Source: newswire

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