There is a need for measured intervention by a government to ensure that benefits are not restricted to urban areas but also reach the rural hinterland for a country to enjoy the fruits of economic development to the fullest, External Affairs Minister Prof G L Peiris said in New York .
The minister was addressing the World Leadership Forum of the US Foreign Policy Association, a think tank established in 1918.
Referring to Sri Lanka’s economic achievements during the last three years after emerging from a protracted terrorist conflict, Prof Pieris said it is clear that the country is now on the path to accelerated economic and social development, demonstrated by the significant growth of the economy, increase in per capita income and GDP, maternal health and infant mortality indicators. He observed that Sri Lanka’s economic growth of 8%, is an impressive figure, particularly in view of the challenging global economy.
The minister explained that in order to achieve such a level of economic development, the government placed much emphasis on the development of infrastructure as it is a prime requisite to enhance connectivity, enable investment in remote areas and facilitate the transportation of produce.
Minister Peiris stressed that fiscal benefits need to be complemented by the construction of highways, ports and harbours in order to energize the economy. He pointed out that Sri Lanka is now in an era of economic renaissance.
Further, Minister Peiris pointed out that vibrant representative institutions and public opinion assume a vital role in reviving the economy and bringing about economic development and underscored the importance of the vigour and vitality of representation at the grass roots level.
Elaborating further, the Minister noted that the beneficiaries of public projects should be the managers as when the funds are given to those who will benefit from the institution, there is direct interest and less wastage. The minister emphasized that the singular success of moving the Sri Lankan economy forward within a limited time frame was due to this policy.
Minister Peiris emphasized the need to inculcate a rights oriented culture, utilizing an equitable system of affirmative action which has empowered the people and enhanced their dignity.
The minister also stated that since no nation could work in isolation, there was also a role for the international community to contribute to the wellbeing of a country.
He stressed however, that one prescription could not be used in overcoming challenges as each society is different, and therefore the culture and value systems of the country need to be taken into account with respect for its specific identity. Such an approach would create a spirit of cooperation, he said.
Other speakers at this event included Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, and Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari.