ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, March 04, 2007
Vol. 41 - No 40
Financial Times  

Lankan business urges government to speed up development

Corporate leaders this week urged the government to expedite the Mahinda Chintana development framework and to speed up addressing its concerns.

They raised issues pertaining to the education, the North East Development, security and economic development of the country at a discussion organised by CIMA on the National Development Strategy discussion with the Central Bank Governor, Nivdard Cabraal providing an introduction to the proposed framework.

The unachievable economic development targets came under fire together with the excessive public spending issue which was also raised.

“The ministers of parliament and other government officials continue to increase their perks while public spending is at its highest,” John Keells Holdings former Group Finance Director Anushya Coomaraswamy said.

She voiced concerns over the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) reforms and the South port development which should be expedited. “We lose out on a lot of business to India because this is taking too long.” she said.

Several leaders observed that the government projections for a gross domestic product (GDP) figure of eight to 8.5 percent to be achieved within the next five years were unachievable and that there is a steep rise in the cost of living.

Cabraal said that the acceleration of growth as envisaged in the 10-year development programme will raise the country’s per capita gross national product (GNP) to US$ 3960 by 2016 and raise its position as a middle income country. “The inflation differences between Sri Lanka and the rest of the world are expected to narrow down the purchasing power parity income also expected to reach around US$13,000 by 2016.”

Raising concerns about the cost of living former Secretary to the Ministry of Enterprise Development, Industrial Policy and Investment Promotion Ranjith Fernando said, “There is a 50 percent increase in the cost of living since the government took office.”

Centre for Policy Alternatives Executive Director, Dr. P. Saravanamuttu asserted that the development in the North and East was not addressed adequately in the Mahinda Chintana and that only six pages to the resolution of the ethnic conflict were dedicated in the Mahinda Chintana.

But Cabraal said, “this year the government has targeted development activities in the areas such as Sampur that has been captured and the Northeast is not entirely left out.”

Sabaragamuwa University Senior Professor, Prof. Rajiva Wijesinghe said under the 10-year plan no actual education reforms have been spelt out and noted that he disagreed with the idea of going slow on reforms.

He said the proposal of bringing in new subjects to mainstream education system in the Mahinda Chintana encouraged a debate on federalism and was having a more pluralist approach towards education.

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Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.