Port City: Next stage will bring in $ 1 b says PM | Sunday Observer

Port City: Next stage will bring in $ 1 b says PM

Pictures by Shan Rupassara
Pictures by Shan Rupassara

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said he would like to see the country’s debts being paid during the time of this generation and not leaving it for the next since that is how life ought to be.

Speaking at the inauguration of the International Organisation of Securities Commission (IOSCO) and the Growth and Emerging Market Committee (GEM) last week, the Prime Minister said that since 2006, the country had been engaged in a high level of debt from commercial to local and foreign debt to fund development programs with no pay back from it to service debts.

“Government revenue was insufficient to service debts. The 2015 elections decided who would carry the can as debt repayments were due. We brought in macro economic stability and raised revenue to service debts,” the Premier said. He said the government is being criticized for selling the Hambantota Port to China. We have received US$ 1.1 billion as our fee to set off all additional debts. This will be same with the Mattala Airport with a strategic investment that will generate income for the country next year.

“We have planned for investments to come into expand the dockyard and set up LNG, steel and cement plants. Around US$ 1 billion will come in from the next stage of the port city project,” Wickremesinghe said.

The Prime Minister said that there is a massive transformation in the economy. He noted that the country has been depending excessively on non-tradable goods for the past five to six years. We need to focus on manufacturing.

“Trade agreements with China and Singapore, the committee on exports to drive growth in the export sector, focus on the service sector such as tourism and logistics sector, ports and airports, industrial zones from Kandy to Mahiyangana and a financial city for offshore financial activities will be the drive to get investors and be in a better position to repay debts,” the Premier said. He said the replacement of the Exchange Control Act, new Monetary Law for the Central Bank to focus on central activities instead of peripheral issues, the new Act for the Securities and Exchange Commission are some of the measures in the pipeline. “A new law to improve the Ease of Doing Business will be introduced to improve the ease of doing business in the country,” Wickremesinghe said.

He said that what needs to be remembered is that the Asian region will have the fastest growing population. “We do not know how the technology would be like in the time to come. A stock exchange may not exist as it will be on a hand-held device,” the Premier said.

IOSCO Growth and Emerging Markets Committee and Securities Commission Malaysia Chairman Ranjit Ajit Singh said economic growth in Malaysia is largely backed by financial markets in the country which is supported by a sound regulatory system. ‘Ports , airports and all other infrastructure growth in Malaysia is built on the back of financial markets which play a vital role in the economy,” Singh said. Securities Exchange Commission Chairman Thilak Karunaratne said that it is a singular honour to host the APRC and GEM annual conference in Colombo at the same time. IOSCO was hosted in Sri Lanka for the first time in 2005. The GEM meeting is hosted in Sri Lanka for the first time.

The Securities and Exchange Commission of Sri Lanka is a member of IOSCO which is the global standard setter for the securities sector. GEM is the largest committee within IOSCO comprising 88 members which includes the world’s fastest growing economies and 10 of the G-20 members. 

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