‘Vision 2025 sees SL as highly competitive social market economy at centre of Indian Ocean’ | Daily News

‘Vision 2025 sees SL as highly competitive social market economy at centre of Indian Ocean’

Consider investing in Sri Lanka and you won’t regret it, remarked Dr Harsha de Silva, Deputy Minister of Policy Planning and Economic Development, addressing the Sri Lanka Economic and Investment Conclave yesterday in Colombo.

“The story of Sri Lanka begins not now, not 100 years ago but 2,000 years ago. When the Spice Route was in operation we found Ceylon cinnamon in Persia, Europe and China and we saw Chinese and Arabian traders using Sri Lanka as a hub in doing their business.”

“What this all means is that the island was completely integrated with global trade. We were a niche player right throughout. Then in the 16th century the Portuguese and then the Dutch and the British came to this country. They did not come to this country to look for oil, coal or gold. We didn’t have it. They used this country as a strategic point to expand their trade. What we are trying to do today is to create some sort of entry point or gateway to the rest of this region. Sri Lanka has only a 20 million population and it is certainly not going to be anybody’s comprehensive marketplace. But it will certainly be a place where industries and investors can set up to exploit the region.”

“The South of India is very exciting for Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka’s US$ 80 billion economy can be easily integrated with the five South Indian states - Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala, Andhra and Telangana. If you look at those five states you are looking at a population of about 400 million and about a US$ 400 billion economy. If you consider the integration of those ports, economic centres with the main ports and economic centres in India, you probably would see that it is easier to be setting up businesses in Sri Lanka to service those southern states of South India. So there is clearly a case for those who are looking at entering the market of India to position themselves in Sri Lanka,” Deputy Minister De Silva pointed out.

The Deputy Minister said to him, Sri Lanka was not a South Asian nation but an Indian Ocean nation. He said when compared with SAARC countries there was nothing much in common with Sri Lanka. But when one compares Sri Lanka with countries like Singapore or Dubai there was a lot in common. Therefore the perspective on Sri Lanka from investors’ point of view changes because the country is linked to China. Therefore, it would be unwise from the government’s point of view not to leverage the growing economy in this part of the world. So the FTA with India must be linked with the FTA with China. Hence the Minister said Sri Lanka’s future will certainly be based on how well the island can integrate with the region and the world.

“If we are to take control of our destiny, we cannot be held back by vested interests in this country but rather by opening up, liberalizing and creating the ecosystem for any shipping line to come and take full advantage of our ports to be able to integrate this nation with the rest of the world,” he said.

If you look at the thinking of this government it is very clear, we have the Vision 2025 document and that says very clearly what Sri Lanka is going to become. Sri Lanka will be knowledge based, highly competitive social market economy at the centre of the Indian Ocean, and that is our vision. In order to achieve that vision we are in the process of putting in place all the Acts and plans that are required.”



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