February 16, 2016 05:06 pm
The World Bank is assisting the Sri Lankan government in its efforts to double the gross domestic product (GDP) by 2025 the latest and to become a high-income country within a decade after that, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said today.
He was addressing an event held in Colombo to unveil the findings of a Systematic Country Diagnostic (SCD) carried out by the World Bank Group, to identify the key constraints to sustaining progress in ending poverty and boosting shared prosperity.
Wickremesinghe stated that Sri Lanka has had many programmes on ending poverty and rural development and that one day he did an assessment to see what went to the people and what went behind a bureaucracy.
“But all we have created is a large bureaucracy at the village level. So are these affective? Are we just holding and giving money to the poor while the country’s economy is growing and the rich are becoming richer and we are subsidizing the poor?”
“We’ve got to breakthrough,” he said, adding that the first task is to get out of this “South Asia mentality” and look at the East Asian models which has a high rate of growth and requires manufacturing, IT, tourism and all to contribute.
“Then only will the rural economy also take off. Modernize the rural economy, that is what we have to do,” he added.
In the case of the cities, he said, poverty is also tied up to education. “The improving of education and education opportunities and having better and better employment prospects.”
Wickremesinghe stated that when he entered politics in 1977, a majority of the country didn’t have electricity and most of the schools were undeveloped.
“We’ve got past all that. We’ve done what we had to do south Asian-wise. Now we have to decide how we get ahead and the new approach we take,” he said.