May 07, Colombo: Sri Lanka President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has expressed optimism that the economy adversely affected by the COVID–19 pandemic could be re-built on a solid basis as the government is preparing to resume day-to-day life and work from next week.
The Presidential Task Force in charge of the Economic Revival and Poverty Eradication has been entrusted with the responsibility of formulating a new economic model to achieve this objective, the President’s Media Division said today.
During a meeting with the members of the newly-appointed Task Force at the Presidential Secretariat Wednesday to discuss modalities relating to the resumption of civilian life and work from May 11th, the President directed the Task Force to prepare economic plans with specified targets in different areas that come under its purview and implement them.
Apparel and tourism sectors which make a huge contribution to the national economy should be revitalized to suit the changing situations, President said.
President was of the view that new opportunities are now open to attract tourists from countries where the COVID–19 virus has subdued. Medical tourism can be promoted by highlighting the capabilities of indigenous medical system which was used for treatment of the virus infected people. In order to encourage high-spending tourists, visas must be issued to them supplemented by an internationally recognized certificate.
Some tourists prefer to stay longer than usual in a particular country especially during the winter season. President highlighted the possibility of strengthening the tourism sector by attracting such long term travelers. Members of the Task Force were told to pay attention to promote domestic tourism so that the local hotel industry could be saved from collapse.
President also pointed out the possibility of attracting more foreign investors to invest in the Port City and the Industrial Zone in Hambantota. The Ministry Secretaries were entrusted with the responsibility of identifying opportunities for investments instead of seeking foreign loans.
During the last few weeks a number of new innovations have been made in the country. Steps should be taken to introduce these products to the global market.
Head of the Task Force Basil Rajapaksa said that the newly instituted Task Force has the capability of fulfilling its mandate with a new vision in order to achieve objectives set out by the President. The Task Force will support new businesses and will extend the fullest cooperation to already existing large, medium and small scale enterprises, he stated.
Although the private sector offices have been advised to resume work at 10.00 am daily from May 11th, industrial and production activities can be adjusted in accordance with their requirements. Mr. Basil Rajapaksa warned that no loss of employment should take place both in the state and private sectors while the country is moving forward.
Recalling recent requests by Sri Lankan students studying in other countries to retun home, President remarked that it was an indication of the large number of students going overseas to pursue higher education. This has caused an immense outflow of foreign exchange income. President Rajapaksa said that measures should be taken to expand investment opportunities in the field of tertiary education in the country so that outgoing foreign exchange could be saved while providing educational facilities to foreign students, in Sri Lanka.
A large amount of money is being spent to import medicines annually. Most of these medicines can be manufactured locally. The Task Force was requested to prepare necessary background to develop pharmaceutical production in the country.
The production of vegetable and other seeds required by farmers domestically, was also discussed.
Secretary to the President P. B. Jayasundera, Secretary to the Prime Minister Gamini Senarath, several Ministry Secretaries and a number of leading businessmen also joined the discussion.