'I am the President of those who voted for me and of those who did not', stated President Mahinda Rajapaksa on winning his second Presidential election on January 27, 2010.
In the election held two years before the end of the President’s first six year term, he won with 57.8 percent of the votes cast, in an election where nearly 70 percent of 14,088,500 registered votes were polled.
The period the President Rajapaksa was re-elected for a second term in office has been most significant in terms of economic progress and consolidating the hard won peace.
During the past year, the number of Internally Displaced people to be resettled has come down to 7, 163 from nearly 300,000. The last remaining group of over 700 former LTTE cadres out of 11,900 who surrendered to Security Forces during the last stages of Humanitarian Operation will be reintegrated into society by mid-2012.
The report of Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) appointed by President Mahinda Rajapaksa was tabled in Parliament in December.
Sri Lanka maintained a steady growth rate throughout the year, recording an 8.4 percent Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth in the third quarter of 2011.
During 2011 Sri Lanka's per capita income rose over US $ 2,000, placing Sri Lanka in the mid-income level country status for the first time in its history.
Sri Lanka has been ranked among the biggest gainers in the world in the '2011 Index of Economic Freedom' conducted by The Wall Street Journal and The Heritage Foundation, Washington's pre-eminent think tank.
The World Bank’s Global Economic Prospect Report of June 2011 said that “India and Sri Lanka will lead the South Asian growth path -reaching 7.9 percent in 2013.” It said that the “Real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth in Sri Lanka remains buoyant, GDP growth in 2010 (calendar year) registered eight percent and has been strongly underpinned by the peace dividend following the end of the decades-old conflict.”
Sri Lanka's foreign exchange reserves rose to US $ 7 billion, for the first time in its history. Remittances from Sri Lankans employed overseas crossed the US $ 05 billion mark for the first time in 2011. During the year, earnings from tourist arrivals rose at a healthy rate of 44.2 percent to US $ 830 million compared to last year. Tourist arrivals increased by 30.8 percent to 855,975 compared to that of 2010.
Foreign exchange earnings from tourism had increased considerably to US $ 497.4 million in 2010 as compared to US $ 326.3 million in the previous year, amounting to an increase of 52.4 percent. Earnings through exports grew over 12 percent compared to the previous year.
The Southern Expressway, the first of its kind in Sri Lanka, was opened by the President turning a new chapter in road development in the country.
The development of bridges, roads, irrigation systems and rural development continued unabated. Special emphasis was laid on health and education. The President last week declared 2012 as the Year for a Trilingual Sri Lanka' and launched 10-year National Action Plan which aims to make the country a trilingual nation by 2020.
Sri Lanka remained an important member of the international community during the past year. Addressing the 66th Session of the UN on Sept 23 President Mahinda Rajapaksa said whilst the clash of ideas, opinions and values continues we have clearly to recognize that dialogue, deliberation and consensus offer only the viable means for resolving differences. The might of powerful nations cannot prevail against justice and fair play. Sri Lanka was also present at the biennial meeting of the Commonwealth Heads of Government in Australia, the SAARC Summit at the Maldives and the Bali Economic Forum in Indonesia.
In Geneva, the Sri Lanka continued to make a strong and effective case against attempts to call for an international probe into allegations of war crimes and violations of International Humanitarian Law. This success was despite the concerted action against Sri Lanka by the pro-LTTE Tamil groups in the West, the heavy propaganda of media institutions such as Channel 4, and continuing efforts of Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the International Crisis Group to keep Sri Lanka in focus among the western nations to serve the interests of the “Tamil “Diaspora”. However, there were successes in the legal action taken against LTTE organizers in the Netherlands and France, continuing action against the LTTE in the USA and India’s refusal to give in to regional pressure to lift the ban on the LTTE.
As the year drew to a close the country saw the opening of the first Centre for the Performing Arts, the Nelum Pokuna Mahinda Rajapaksa Theatre, which was a gift to the people of Sri Lanka from China, emphasizing the new opportunities for cultural renaissance in the country.