Sri Lanka has achieved a remarkable growth rate of 7.3% in 2013 overcoming the slight drop in the growth rate in the first two quarters of the year. The Per Capita Income has risen to US$ 3,280 and it is expected to go beyond the projected US$ 4,000 mark in 2016.
The 2013 Annual Report of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, which was presented to President Mahinda Rajapaksa today (April 8) at the Central Bank auditorium by the Bank’s Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal stated that foreign exchange reserves have risen to a record level of US$ 7.5 billion and it is sufficient for five months of imports payments.
The Report stated that the annual growth, which was 6.3% last year, grew by 7.3 percent in 2013 despite adverse international economic scenario.
Speaking on the occasion, President Rajapaksa said though the economy has grown at a rate of 6 or 7 percent per annum, the government is determined to further accelerate growth. “I believe in stability for faster economic growth. If there is turmoil, the growth cannot be maintained at a steady rate. Now that there is peace and stability, we have achieved average economic growth of over seven percent during the last five years,” he said.
The CBSL Annual Report stated the services sector recorded a growth rate of 6.4% and the agriculture sector 4.4%. The tourist arrivals had risen to 1.27 million, a 27% increase over the previous year and it has brought earnings to the tune of US$ 1.7 billion.
The 2013 showed the policies to curb inflation and reduce poverty yielding results. With inflation, which was successfully limited to a single digit for over five years, further reduced to 4.4%. The poverty level dropped below seven percent during the year.
Pointing out that the unemployment dropped to 4.4% in 2013, President Rajapaksa said some entrepreneurs wanted the government to relax the visa regulations to allow them to recruit foreign workers. “I did not agree to that, though I am aware that some foreigners come on tourist visas and work in some factories,” he said.
The President said that education has been diversified to suit the job market, which has resulted in the drop in unemployment. “There a many vocational training institutions all over the country now. When I was a student there was only one A Grade school in Hambantota District, while there were 37 in Jaffna District. Our aim is to provide equal opportunities to all,” he said.
Minsiers Basil Rajapaksa and Dr Sarath Amunugama, Secretary to the President, Lalith Weeratunga and secretaries to ministries and officials were present on the occasion.