President apprises EU ambassadors | Daily News


 

President apprises EU ambassadors

SL needs investments, debt moratorium

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa met the EU ambassadors at the Presidential Secretariat yesterday. The discussion centered on rebuilding the economy after the COVID-19 crisis.

The country was able to quickly deploy the public health system to address the health threat caused by the pandemic, the President explained.

The Public Health Inspectors with the support of the Police and Security Forces were able to engage in contact tracing accurately. It was not only those who were infected but also the associates of the infected were quarantined. These measures helped Sri Lanka successfully combat the virus.

The next concern before the country is reviving the economy, the President said. The growth rate is very low and the national debt is high, he said.

To control this dire situation, certain controls and restrictions on imports were needed. However, this does not mean Sri Lanka will be a closed economy.

At the same time, the President expressed his interest in developing domestic industries. Most food items, the President noted, can be produced locally. Therefore, he stressed the need for Sri Lanka to modernise this sector. He also spoke of the importance of introducing organic fertiliser, better quality seeds and advanced technologies. About 40 per cent of the agricultural produce now gets wasted due to lack of proper storage facilities. Therefore, the President underscored, there is a need to increase facilities in methods such as canning and drying fresh produce.

Given the situation, the President said, Sri Lanka would benefit from a debt moratorium. He also emphasised that taking further loans is not an option. Instead of further debt, Sri Lanka needs new investments. The President directed the EU delegations’ attention to projects such as renewable energy using solar and wind. He also expressed his interest in focusing on an IT based education system so that the youth are more exposed to new technologies. The number of students engaged in online learning platforms now has increased. The UGC is also amending its act to allow more universities to enter Sri Lanka.

The EU delegation responded positively to President Gotabaya and discussed at length a number of ways their respective countries may be able to engage with Sri Lanka in these areas.


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