June 06, Colombo: Sri Lanka's Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe today said the country can overcome the challenges and reach the envisaged export income of US$ 5 billion.
Addressing the 2018 Information and Communication Technology (ICT) forum today in Colombo the Premier said the government is taking all the measures to achieve the goal.
The ICT- 2018 Forum organized by the National Chamber of Exporters of Sri Lanka Forum organized and the Sri Lanka Export Development Board (EDB) under the theme "Information Technology and its role in modern organizations", was held on Wednesday under the aegis of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.
Speaking at the event, the Premier explained that it is possible to create a knowledge centered economy in Sri Lanka harnessing information Technology industry, the world's most modern industry.
He reminded that Sri Lanka is a country with a huge debt-burden but the government is now receiving revenue to pay the debts back.
"We want to increase the GDP of the country and raise the living standards of the people. But first we need Sri Lanka to be the center of the Indian Ocean. That's why we took measures to develop the two main ports of Sri Lanka. At the moment, we have taken strong measures to increase activity at the Hambantota Port. Today there is no need to pay loans for the port of Hambantota from the income from the Colombo Port," the Premier explained.
He said a similar program would be implemented soon to develop the idling Mattala International Airport in Hambantota.
At the same time, tourism should also be strengthened. "Remember, we are close to India and China, the largest tourist markets in the world," he said.
He said the government would like to see an increase in the export earnings as well.
"We would also like to see an increase in the export earnings to Rs. 5 billion as the Export Development Board is. We've just reached US$ one billion. That is after 25 years. The local market is important but it is not the only market," the Premier said.
He said that the knowledge-centered economy is very important and that is capable of utilizing country's most valuable asset, human resources.
"Our strength is our people. Our strategic position can be used for the people and our education system for the development of the country. It needs to be strengthened. It can create an upper middle-income economy," Prime Minister Wickremesinghe further said adding that he is confident that it can be done.
"There are many challenges to overcome before reaching the goal of US$ 5 billion income from exports. We need to create a full knowledge-centered economy. All Sri Lankans should work for that goal and they should profit from it," the Prime Minister said.