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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 107

Successful bond issue confirms foreign investor trust in Government’s Ten Year Vision for Development – Mahinda Rajapakse

Colombo, 19 October, (Asiantribune.com): “The validity of the trust that investors have placed in us is confirmed by the successful international bond issue for US $ 500 million that was closed yesterday,” said President Mahinda Rajapakseat the opening of the Thulhiriya Textile Export Complex today (19).President Mahinda Rajapaksa oppened MAS Fabric park, new garment Factory at Thulhiriya Textile export complex at Thulhiriya  - (Pix - Chandana Perera)President Mahinda Rajapaksa oppened MAS Fabric park, new garment Factory at Thulhiriya Textile export complex at Thulhiriya - (Pix - Chandana Perera)

President Rajapakse aid: “When for the first time our government went to the international markets and launched a Sri Lankan bond issue for US $ 500 million, it was oversubscription by over three times the issue on offer, in the face of the many obstacles, attempts at sabotage, false and harmful publicity and attempts to frighten investors, confirms the trust and confidence the international financial markets and foreign investors have in our Ten Year Vision for development,

Therefore, I honestly believe that the action of the investors in coming forward, despite some threats of not repaying debts, is a sign of the genuine expectations about the stability of this country and its future development.”

The President also said: “We are dedicated to ensure the security of the country, free the people in all areas from terrorism, and build a humane and democratic society. The measures we take to restore life in the east to normalcy are also an important for necessity for the people of the north. As a government we are committed to bring the benefits of development projects such as this to the people in the north and east, too”.

Here is the text of the President’s Mahinda Rajapakse’s addrress at Thulhiriya at the opening of the Thulhiriya Textile Export Complex on October 19, 2007.President Mahinda Rajapaksa oppened MAS Fabric park new garment Factory at Thulhiriya Textile export complex at Thulhiriya on 19th.Minister Rohitha  Bogollagama,Ranjith Siyabalapitiya,Chairman of the Factory mr.Mahesh  Amaleen also present (Pix Chandana perera)President Mahinda Rajapaksa oppened MAS Fabric park new garment Factory at Thulhiriya Textile export complex at Thulhiriya on 19th.Minister Rohitha Bogollagama,Ranjith Siyabalapitiya,Chairman of the Factory mr.Mahesh Amaleen also present (Pix Chandana perera)

Friends, it is with pride that I participate in this ceremony to mark the opening of this fully modern textile export processing complex at Thulhiriya. Forty years ago, Thulhiriya achieved fame as the location of the largest textile factory in all of Asia . That factory contributed to national industrial development as well as the development of this area.

That factory was privatized in the later half of 1980. From that time, through the past 20 years, not only was there a steady decline in this factory, a large number of workers too lost their employment, and the economic centre that was the key to the prosperity of this area was brought to destruction. So far, all governments since then have failed to re-develop this establishment and area.

When I contested the last presidential election this establishment had come to a collapse and all employees had lost their jobs. One promise I gave to those workers when I came here was the restoration of this place to one of economic prosperity, as well as the obtaining of just and reasonable compensation to the affected workers.

It is a matter of special significance that this immense task was achieved in the past two years. We were able to obtain compensation amounting to around Rs 90 million for the workers. That money was an important investment towards improving the lives and livelihoods of the workers who live here. That money was provided by MAS Holdings that came forward to invest in this enterprise. In addition, this establishment also took action to make this area the home of a textile complex with the best and latest in technology. The investment in this work for the next two years will be around US $ 150 million. This investment will enable Thulhiriya to once again become an important centre in the industrial development of Sri Lanka .

I wish to first express my gratitude to the Chairman and Board of Directors of MAS Holdings for their participation in social and economic development. I also appreciate the commitment of those who worked here earlier to make this investment a productive reality.

Friends,

The Garment Industry is the main industry in our country. We obtain export earnings of US $ 3,000 million from it. In all, this industry provides direct and indirect employment to nearly one million people. It is a core industry that functions in combination with a variety of other industries such as packaging and printing, as well as the ports and transport sector. Not only has it spread out into our villages, it has also directly impacted on the lives of our people.

Initially, garment production was an industry that was carried out with machinery, raw materials and textiles brought from abroad, with the local input limited to the workforce. But today, it has become an industry that contributes to the national economy with a high level of value addition, by using machinery and other local services in addition to the skills of the workers. In this regard, the commitment of MAS Holdings, together with the technologically advanced modern textile complex that is to be established here, with the arrangements for the use of local raw materials, is not only an important leap forward but also a step that increases expectations for the future economic development of the country. A similar technologically modern industrial township is under construction at Horana, too. We value the steps taken by Sri Lankan entrepreneurs by such investments as they make an immense contribution to enhancing economic development.

Friends,

Through the Mahinda Chinthana Ten Year Vision we have identified the need to have economic growth exceeding 8 per cent. For this purpose we have undertaken the major task of providing the necessary infrastructure development, national security and economic stability. We are also giving priority to taking to the underdeveloped rural areas the economic development that is at present confined to Colombo and its environs.

Two years have elapsed since the introduction of the Mahinda Chinthana Ten Year Vision. During this period we have been able to reach a 7 % level of economic growth. This is the highest rate of growth our country has seen since 1978. Growth in the export sector is around 12 %. In these two years, not only has our Garment Industry been ahead of its international competition, it has also shown a 6 % level of growth. The foreign earnings that stood at US $ 250 million have been increased threefold. Foreign reserves have exceeded US $ 2.7 billion. Unemployment has fallen by 6 per cent, and we have been able to keep the budget deficit below 8%.

Our country now faces a major challenge. Just now the price of a barrel of oil exceeds US $ 85. The import of oil to the country costs a sum as large as US $ 2400 million. At present the prices of food items such as milk powder and wheat flour have gone up rapidly in the international markets. Although such items can be produced in this country, due to the systems and practices adopted through many years we now have to bear an enormous expense for them. As much as this modern textile complex will contribute to a major development in the garment and textile industries, and larger earnings of foreign exchange, it is important that the example of Thulhiriya is followed in producing our food requirements too, in our own country.

As much as we need to reduce our dependence on imported fuel it is also necessary that despite whatever hardships, we also reduce our dependence on imported foodstuffs.

We decided to go ahead with the construction of the Norochcholai Coal Powered Power Project that had been delayed and set aside by successive governments, as well as the Kotmale Hydro Power Project. By setting up such power stations we have been able to bring about a lasting solution to the crisis in electricity generation. Under the programme of “Let’s Grow, Let’s Build the Land” – the cultivation of all the rice, vegetables, fruits and grains that we can grow in our country is one of the principal goals in the Mahinda Chinthana Ten Year Vision. We are now committed to this task. We are also giving new life to rural development through the “Gama Neguma and Maga Neguma” programmes.

We are dedicated to ensure the security of the country, free the people in all areas from terrorism, and build a humane and democratic society. The measures we take to restore life in the east to normalcy are also an important for necessity for the people of the north. As a government we are committed to bring the benefits of development projects such as this to the people in the north and east, too.

Friends,

Although we have to set apart considerable assets to ensure national security and meet the enormous costs such as the need for fuel imports, we are not ready to set aside the development of the country.

We have given priority to the construction of power stations, highways, ports and airports, housing development, irrigation, rural infrastructure development, as well as education, health and other aspects of economic development. We have taken steps to carry out such development work in all areas, with great investment. It is necessary that we obtain the assets for this, both from within the country and abroad. We have also prioritized the increasing of government revenue as well as increasing both local and foreign investment. After 10 years, this year government revenue has reached 18% of the national income. That is a measure of our commitment.

Private companies such has MAS Holdings coming together with the Government to rebuild and revitalize enterprises that have failed after privatization, demonstrates well the expectations and trust such investors have placed in the development of the country. The validity of such trust is confirmed by the successful international bond issue for US $ 500 million that was closed yesterday. When for the first time our government went to the international markets and launched a Sri Lankan bond issue for US $ 500 million, its oversubscription by over three times the issue on offer, in the face of the many obstacles, attempts at sabotage, false and harmful publicity and attempts to frighten investors, confirms the trust and confidence the international financial markets and foreign investors have in our Ten Year Vision for development. Therefore, I honestly believe that the action of the investors in coming forward, despite some threats of not repaying debts, is a sign of the genuine expectations about the stability of this country and its future development.

I call upon all entrepreneurs, workers, peasants and all sections of the people to make a commitment to achieve economic development in keeping with the progress we have made in national security, and build a democratic and humane society. I wish all success to this new venture of MAS Holdings and the huge investment it has made. Similarly, I wish that this area will in the next few years regain the international fame and recognition it had 40 years ago, and that this will be the ideal opportunity to bring about a broad development in the garment industry.

Thank you.

- Asian Tribune -

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