Time to focus on areas other than human rights: Mangala


Aug 31, 2015 (LBO) – Sri Lanka needs to focus on areas other than human rights in order to ensure long-term peace and stability, Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera said.

Addressing diplomats based in Colombo recently, Samaraweera said the key to ensuring long-term peace and stability and preventing the recurrence of conflict is through strengthening the economy.

“As much as we would need your invaluable support in terms of technical expertise in the setting up of domestic mechanisms, we think the time has now come to focus our attention to other areas which will contribute to strengthening our economy,” Samaraweera emphasized.

The foreign minister further stressed that the country needs to secure its access for goods and services in the global market while making them competitive.

“We look to you for assistance in terms of expertise in enhancing the quality of our goods and services for this purpose to be able to plug into value chains,” Samaraweera said.

“We want to equip our young people with the technical skills required for success in the present job markets around the world.”

The minister also invited new investors to explore opportunities available in setting up manufacturing plants in Sri Lanka to access the large markets in the subcontinent.

Currently Sri Lanka has in place free trade agreements with both India and Pakistan.

“The Government will enact necessary legislation required to create investor confidence without delay,” he said.

“But we are aware that legislative reform alone will not reset the investment climate. Therefore, ensuring policy stability and creating a level playing field for all investors is a priority for the new government.”

“The bi-partisan consensus resulting from the National Government, I am sure, will aid in this process.” he added.

He pointed out that fighting corruption will be one of the new Government’s primary objectives, and new laws and institutions, in line with UN principles on anti-corruption, will also be adopted.

The Government is to pursue new trade agreements with foreign countries and aims to set up 45 economic eevelopment zones with 11 Industrial and technological zones throughout the country.

It includes Hambantota for ship building and manufacturing, Raigama for consumer and new technology, Maha Oya, Vanni and Killinochchi for manufacturing, Colombo for commercial and monetary services, and Kandy, Jaffna and Galle for IT.