SL Prez stresses developing economy during COVID-19 pandemic

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SL Prez stresses developing economy during COVID-19 pandemic
Colombo: Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has stressed developing national economy while the country is battling the COVID-19 pandemic as he recently appointed a Presidential Task Force on Economic Revival and Poverty Eradication.

The President, in an interview with his Principal Advisor Lalith Weeratunga said that Sri Lanka must change its strategies and seek new markets with a view to developing the national economy, reports Xinhua news agency.

“In the past we have imported even the goods that could be locally produced… This is a good opportunity for us not only to be self-sufficient in food, but also export food items,” he said.

The President added that the agricultural sector must be modernised and infused with new technology.

Farmers’ incomes should be raised and youth should be encouraged to develop agriculture-based industries.

He praised the Sri Lanka Tea Board, which recently oversaw the transition of the Colombo Tea Auction to an online platform.

The innovation has allowed Sri Lanka’s largest agricultural export of $1.5 billion to continue amid a strict curfew.

He noted that loss-making public sector entities should be made more efficient and profitable.

Public entities which own large extents of land “must grow in every unused cultivable land”, he said.

On April 22, the President appointed a Presidential Task Force on Economic Revival and Poverty Eradication, comprising over 30 members including military, police, public sector officials and experts from the private sector.

“The Task Force should steer the relevant institutes to create a production economy through the formulation of a unique economic structure based on novel initiatives,” a statement from the President’s Media Division said.

Sri Lanka is gearing up plans to restart its domestic economy which has been brought to a near standstill by a curfew imposed on March 20 to contain a COVID-19 outbreak that has seen over 480 infections, seven deaths and 120 recoveries so far.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has forecast that Sri Lanka’s GDP will contract 0.5 per cent in 2020 while the World Bank has forecast a GDP contraction of between 0.5 and 3.5 per cent due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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