‘Primary products will drive export market’ | Daily News


‘Primary products will drive export market’

The government has adopted policies that encourage and stimulate export-oriented growth in order to achieve the national goals of the country and reduce the debt burden for future generations, Social Welfare and Primary Industries Minister Daya Gamage said.

The previous government doubled Sri Lanka’s debt, the Minister said, pointing to the danger of a debt-driven economy with little private investment. “There is a dire need to increase our export earnings to meet the national debt problem. We plan to make Sri Lanka an export-driven economic hub of the region, enabling connectivity with the region and the world via a highly developed network of ports and airports,” he said.

“We are setting the stage for Sri Lankans engaged in sectors such as agriculture, industry and services, to be able to compete successfully in the global market while securing the inclusion of Sri Lanka in the global value chain.”

Speaking at a media briefing in Colombo yesterday, the Minister said plans are afoot to set up 5,000 export production villages across the country in order to boost the nation’s export sector. The villages will be linked to 33 specialised agro and fish processing zones currently being set up in the country. Upon completion of the project, the government has targeted an additional export income of US$ 7–9 billion and 500,000 new employment opportunities.

“Modernising primary products will be the top priority in line with the government’s plan to increase exports. Planting stocks of mango, cinnamon, pepper, cloves, and cardamom have been distributed among the people to encourage further expansion of the sector. Already, the smallholder sector is within our programme of assistance. We have distributed a substantial number of spice plants and mango plants,” Minister Gamage said.

“Our aim through all these activities is to double our foreign exchange earnings,” the Minister said. “Fruit and spice plants that are in demand in the export market will be encouraged among cultivators.”

The Ministry also implements the programme to empower women through home garden projects which will help them to earn an extra income. “Our aim is to empower one million women and we have already provided various species of plants which are in demand in the export market to 35,000 women islandwide,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Ministry has implemented a programme to improve the welfare facilities of the elderly, widows with small children, the visually and hearing impaired, the disabled and those suffering from thalassemia, autism, and renal failure. Another 40,000 elderly people will be granted a monthly allowance before the end of this year.

“We plan to set up 1,000 elders’ committees at the rural level. These committees can provide a forum for the elderly to get together and become involved in community work,” he said. “We will provide funds to these committees to empower them with various income-earning activities. They can deposit their income in the Samurdhi bank in the future as well. All Samurdhi banks in the country will be computerised to provide an efficient service to clients,” he said.

“We are also planning to recruit volunteer counsellors to help people solve various types of problems. In order to upgrade the livelihoods of low-income families, the Ministry will implement 50,000 projects in the future,” the Minister said.

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