Speaking to European Union (EU) ambassadors at the Presidential Secretariat yesterday (18), President Gotabaya Rajapaksa stressed the need for new investments, not further debt.
In a discussion that was centered on rebuilding Sri Lanka’s economy, the President also said the country would benefit from a debt moratorium, given the current situation.
Having briefed the EU ambassadors on Sri Lanka’s response to and success with managing COVID-19, the President said the country’s focus was now with reviving the economy.
“The current growth rate is very low and the national debt is high,” the President said.
He said that while certain controls and restrictions on imports were therefore necessary to manage the situation, it did not mean Sri Lanka would be a closed economy.
The President said that he was interested in developing domestic industries, such as food, which can be produced locally—however, Sri Lanka would need to modernise this sector, introducing organic fertilizer, better quality seeds and advanced technologies, he said.
“Presently, about 40 percent of agricultural produce gets wasted due to lack of proper storage facilities. Therefore, there is a need to increase facilities in methods such as canning and drying fresh produce,” he said.
The President also said he was interested in focusing on an IT based education system that would expose youth to new technologies, also saying the University Grants Commission (UGC) was currently amending its act to allow more universities enter and establish a presence in Sri Lanka.
The President had directed the EU delegations’ attention to projects such as renewable energy, using solar and wind—the EU delegation had responded positively to the President and discussed at length a number of ways their countries may be able to engage with Sri Lanka.