Sri Lanka becoming the 'Wonder of Asia' is no longer a dream with the country experiencing rapid development in every sector and its benefits being equally distributed to all parts, President Mahinda Rajapaksa said yesterday (23).
The President recalled that in the past there was a notion that the country should emulate its fast developing neighbours such as Singapore and South Korea.
"In the same manner other less developed nations may look to emulate Sri Lanka's success in the future as the country reaches greater heights," he added.
The President noted the above addressing a large gathering in Pattiwila where he opened the Biyagama Water Treatment Plant which adds 180 million litres per day to the national drinking water system to supplement the drinking water needs of over one million people.
The President went on to say that his government after assuming office in 2005 always looked for opportunities to improve the water needs of the people which resulted in water supply schemes and irrigation projects been launched all over the country. "We have made and continue to make large investments in water supply projects with the aim of making Sri Lanka one of the best countries in Asia when it comes to providing its citizens safe drinking water" he added.
However, the President noted there were allegations from the opposition that the government was taking loans for such projects and stressed that these were only to supplement development activities for the benefit of people unlike ones taken in the past which were taken just to feed the people.
He recalled that the country was yet paying loans taken in the past to feed the people, especially monies spent to import flour. He stressed that this era was now over and the country was looking forward to achieving self sufficiency in its food needs.
President Rajapaksa said his government had never shied away from challenges and had always worked for the benefit of the people.
As a result, the President pointed out that the people's living standards and their day to day requirements had undergone a tremendous change. "In the past people requested from us to usher peace. Now they are requesting carpeted roads, expressways etc. Earlier, the people wanted electricity for their households but now they want subsidies to make the power cheaper" the President noted. He added "today, we have a government and people who work hard unlike the lethargic approach in the past. Now, we have a country that all could be proud about ".
The President said that the opposition had run out of slogans when it came to criticizing the government on development as they were finding it difficult to come up with any weaknesses. He said the opposition too had a responsibility to engage in constructive criticism and make suggestions for the progress of the nation.
The President said he never thought of gaining political mileage and never took decisions that betrayed the nation. "Our responsibility is to solve issues during this era itself without handing them over to the future generations. This is why we don't shy away from issues and challenges" he added.
The new project initiated yesterday at a cost of Rs.10,150 million will provide drinking water to one million people in the Biyagama, Keleniya, Seeduwa, Jaela, Ragama, Kandana, Wattala, Genemulla, Kadawatha and Kiribathgoda areas. Financial assistance in the form of a soft loan has been provided by the Denmark government Water Supply and Drainage Minister Dinesh Gunewardene and Disaster Management Deputy Minister Dulip Wijesekera also spoke.