Speaking at an interactive luncheon meeting yesterday with former US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, Dr. De Silva added that major reforms could be expected within the next year as a result.
“Looking at the long-term sustainable growth for this country, certainly we need to increase our exports, because our model is not sustainable. We thought we were growing at 8% but now we realise we’re only growing at 4%. So to get to double digits is a huge challenge,” he said, addressing an audience which included business leaders.
“I think we need to really sit down and think ‘what is our plan?’ and work towards it. I think trade agreements, investments, the relaxing of rules and regulations, liberalising of factor markets, all these become critical in getting our act together. So I see major changes and huge legislative, ministerial and State enterprise reforms in the next 6-12 months, because unless we do that we will be unable to unleash the capacity [of the country]. So look forward to dramatic change.”
Meanwhile, Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake, who was also in attendance, spoke of Sri Lanka’s goal to be a transit point for trade with their Asian neighbours.
“This (Sri Lanka) is an investment for the future. We from Sri Lanka will certainly ensure that matters here are rectified so that we put ourselves on an even playing field in the world, but all we want do is to ensure that American investors look at Sri Lanka as an opportunity. The free trade agreement in India is a wonderful opportunity. That market access as a supply chain is something which is underestimated,” he noted.