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Sri Lanka former war zone seen as economic catalyst

Feb 22, 2010 (LBO) - The revival of Sri Lanka's northern and eastern provinces can position them as economic catalysts for the country in the long term, its investment promotion chief Dhammika Perera said. It will provide opportunities for further policy reforms and private-public partnerships, Perera, chairman of the Board if Investment said in a speech at Oxford Union, University of Oxford in the UK.

The re-integration of the north-east with the rest of the economy opens about two-thirds of the maritime and coastal resources of the island and one-third of untapped fertile land for productive use, he said.

"Due to the conflict both the northern and eastern provinces, home to about fifteen percent of the country’s population, were unable to contribute significantly to the nation's gross domestic product."

Economic activity has begun to revive in the north and east after the end of the island's 30-year ethnic war in May 2009.

Perera said investments in reviving economic activity and ensuring better education for people in the war-affected regions were important.

"The rehabilitation of human capital, the outcomes of comprehensive regional development programmes together with public

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