Sri Lanka to be Indian Ocean’s principal focus: PM

(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) –The Mahavihara Conservation Project had been launched under the supervision of Higher Education and Cultural Affairs Minister Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe and under the guidance of the Maha Sangha, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said. “This is in keeping with my pledge as Prime Minister in 2001 and the subsequent election pledge during President Maithripala Sirisena’s election campaign,” he added.

He was addressing a daham hamuwa to mark the opening of a parapet wall and stone pond at the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi and the laying of the foundation stone for the Lovamahapaya renovations in Anuradhapura, on Tuesday.The government’s objective was to transform Sri Lanka into the focal point of the Indian Ocean in the same manner Anuradhapura became the focal point of the Indian Ocean in the past, the Prime Minister said.

Prime Minister Wickremesinghe said the main objective of the Maha Vidharaya Conservation Project was to revive and protect Sri Lanka’s heritage. Anuradhapura was not only a Sinhala or Sri Lankan heritage, but also a world heritage. The number of tanks in and around Anuradhapura was testimony to its ancient glory as a centre of Buddhism and trade in Asia.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said the government had spent Rs.500 million on the Mahaviharaya Project. Another sum of Rs.2.5 billion had been set apart for the Central Cultural Fund’s activities, including Buddhist and Archaeological activities, while the Prime Minister’s office had spent an additional Rs.500 million on Buddhist activities.

The President’s Fund, as well as the Buddhasasana Fund, had also spent similar amounts for the same purpose. No other government in the country’s history had spent as much as the present one had for the development and propagation of Buddhism, he said, adding that it was everyone’s duty to strive towards making Sri Lanka the centre of the Buddhism in the world again.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said the proposed Trincomalee Development Plan was handed over to the government by the Singaporean company Subana Jurong, about one-and-a-half months ago.“The project would take another decade or one-and-a-half decades to be completed. But we should undertake the job as a must,” the Prime Minister said, adding that in place of the Mantota Port, the government was developing the Colombo Port.

The Central Highway was being built up to Kandy and it would be later extended to Trincomalee. The government was undertaking the work by taking the ancient Anuradhapura city as an example,” he said.The country would be developed by making use of the ports situated around it. International trade should be established on the lines of the trade which flourished during the Polonnaruwa period. Sri Lanka had to keep pace with other Asian countries in the development field, Prime Minister Wickremesinghe said.

The Prime Minister said that the country had overcome its most difficult times during the past three years. The government had to manage the economy, ease the debt burden, and create employment avenues during that period.“There is no point in talking of Sinhala and Buddhist identities merely for political purposes when canvassing votes. Every Sri Lankan should be able to understand our origin,” he said, “In the same way countries such as China, England and France speak about their past, we too, should be able to portray our ancient civilisation to the outside world.”

He said that a group of persons, including university dons, had submitted a report regarding the setting up of an institute of history at his request, adding that after further discussions with them, he would take steps to set up the institute by an act of Parliament.The Prime Minister also praised the services rendered by late President J. R. Jayawardene, late Minister E. L. B. Hurulle and former Central Cultural Fund Director-General Dr. Roland Silva, for laying the groundwork for the Mahavihara Conservation Project

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