(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) – Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister said the country’s public life and economy are returning to normal and all public representatives should take measures to revive the tourism industry and take forward country’s development process.
Expressing his views during a meeting held at Temple Tress yesterday(29) with a group of parliamentarians to discuss the manner in which the government should proceed, Prime Minister Wickremesinghe said based on the prevailing favorable security situation in the country measures should be taken to effectively execute development initiatives.
He said the travel restrictions imposed on the island by many countries, including Germany, have now been lifted and accordingly, the development of tourism industry will be accelerated.
Mr. Wickremesinghe stressed that all people’s representatives of parliament, provincial councils and local government should defeat the efforts by some groups to sabotage the country’s development and take forward the development process.
“Due to the decisions taken by the government after April 21, the security forces arrested all suspects in connection to the Easter Sunday attacks and were able to tackle the threat of the ISIS organization within a within a month.’
“Although some have tried to sabotage schools, schools activities are being conducted as usual. We also celebrated the Vesak while services at Catholic churches and prayers of Muslim are being conducted as usual. The country has become normal now, and action has to be taken to further the country’s economic development.”
“Many were concerned that the attack on the Easter Sunday would have a big impact on the economy of the country. We were very cautious about this. But our economy has not suffered such a serious harm. There has been a temporary downturn in a number of sectors of the economy. But this was mostly because of the curfew imposed on the days following the attack, and the people staying away from daily routine. As a result, market transactions and sales fell. However, these transactions and businesses have become normal in the last two weeks.”
He said the government requested the banks to provide short term relief to the businessmen who found it difficult to pay back loans.
The Premier added that the Easter Sunday attacks did not reduce the exports and a number of manufacturing sectors operate as normal. However, he said the government has focused on the areas that have had a major impact since the attack which had a major impact on tourism.
Wickremesinghe noted that many countries imposed travel restrictions on Sri Lanka after the attacks and but now some countries including India, China and Switzerland have eased the restrictions. “We hope other countries to follow suit and take prompt action to remove travel restrictions on Sri Lanka.”
He said cabinet of ministers at the cabinet meeting yesterday implemented a special program to attract more visitors from India, China and Europe by August.
“We will give relief and support to not only large scale hotels but also to small tourism enterprises as well as to other businesses linked to tourism. We will also provide relief to all those who are in the tourism industry to ease their debts.”
The Premier expressed hope that with the removal of the travel bans more tourists will arrive by August and reach the target of tourist arrivals by December.
He said the amount allocated for Gamperaliya and Enterprises Sri Lanka has been further increased and urged the organizers to go to their electorates and initiate the development work.
According to the Premier further over 22,000 graduates are to be employed. Permanent appointments will be given to 1,300 temporary teachers in the North and East.
Meanwhile, new programs are also being implemented. “We are implementing programs to provide equipment for fishery and agriculture. Steps are being taken to provide assistance and provide relief to businessmen who provide cold storage facilities to fisher folk and farmers.”
The concessionary loans given to the middle income people by the Housing Development Authority and the Urban Development Authority to purchase homes have been increased to Rs. 6 million.
The Minister of Finance and the Minister of Economic Reforms & Public Distribution will be briefed on more development measures in the next few days, the Prime Minister said adding that the government has restarted the development work and hopes that investments will flow into the country once again.
“We successfully faced the Easter Sunday attack. In the first month, terrorists who were involved in the attack were arrested and returned the country to normalcy. During the second month, we will improve the country’s economy and continue to take forward the development.”
“Some parties will try to sabotage this development process. However, we wish to state that we are able to defeat such acts of sabotage and carry on our development process.”
“From the day we took over the government we faced many challenges. Although the economy of the country collapsed in the 52 days of the political crisis, the economy of the country was brought up by the Sinhala and Tamil New Year. After the Easter Sunday attack, the economy of the country experienced a setback. But you do not have to worry about it. We will uplift the economy of the country. We are also working to eliminate the ISIS terrorism form the country while a select committee has also been appointed to look into the Easter Sunday attacks. Now we have to continue our work normally and go forward,” the Prime Minister told the people’s representatives.