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Sri Lanka would not have been affected by the current global economic crisis if the country did not get into a debt trap like the one it has got into, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said yesterday.

Mr Wickremesinghe expressed this sentiment at the prize giving of Maliyadeva Balika Maha Vidyalaya in Kurunegala in the morning.

“Sri Lanka is largely affected by the devaluation rupee because of the debt trap it has got into. We would not have been affected by the devaluation issue if we did not get into a debt trap. We have to pay $ 3,000 million this year to settle debts while a sum of $ 4000 million has to be paid next year. Therefore one could see that what we inherited are past sins. What we have to do now is to overcome this situation,” the Prime Minister said.

“ Anyhow the current global crisis affects both the household economy and the national economy. We are fully aware of it. Some countries such as Thailand and Vietnam are not severely affected by the global economic crisis as they fully depend on exports,” the Prime Minister added while stressing that Sri Lanka too should go for an export-driven economy in order to get out of the present crisis.

The Prime Minister said Sri Lanka has failed to focus on building up an export-driven economy for the last ten years. “ It will take at least three years to build such an economy. Attracting investors and establishing export zones is a time-consuming job. However, we have already embarked on such a program. Kurunegala, Kandy and South have been identified as locations where export zones would be opened. The Central highway which is being constructed now will be helpful to the export zone which will come in the North-Western Region. An 800-acre export zone will be built in Bingiriya. Such zones will come in Kurunegala as well. There will be a 10,000-acre zone in Hambantota. There will also be one in Kalutara,” he also said.

Further, the Prime Minister said Sri Lanka will need skilled and knowledgeable people when various kinds of industries come up in Sri Lanka and added that such persons will be produced through a modernized education system. (Yohan Perera)

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