Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe predicted that the Kandy – Colombo expressway will be completed before the next general election yesterday.
The Prime Minister was speaking at the maiden rally organized by the United National Party under the leadership of the party leader to support UNP candidates contesting the forthcoming local government elections in Kandy.
While noting that the previous Rajapaksa regime had left Sri Lanka in a gigantic debt trap Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday stressed that the present Government will not hand over the country’s debt to the future generations.
He said during the past three years the government took efforts to provide the infrastructure, reduce debt burden and stabilize the economy. “Now we have the ability and strength to go forward,” he added.
The UNP leader said that the country received US$ 1500 million worth foreign investments last year alone and predicted there will be a much bigger amount of FDI’s this year.
While noting that the present government has been able to lay the foundation for unprecedented economic and social development both at national and village level the Premier requested the voters to give the UNP the power at the upcoming local government elections to show how local councils can be developed.
“We ask the masses in this country to give the power of the local councils to the UNP to show how they could be developed,” the Premier said to the applause of the massive crowd present at the city centre near the Kandy public market.
“Although Rajapaksa ruled for nine years he could not build this road. When I became the Prime Minister in 2015 I came to this exact location and promised to start the construction of the road soon. We have kept that promise” he recalled.
The UNP leader went on to say that it was not only the plans to construct the Kandy – Colombo expressway which had been thrown in the dustbin during the 09 year Rajapaksa rule but they had also thrown out the window dreams of the country’s youth for a prosperous future by leaving the country in an unbearable debt trap.
“Rajapaksa held the Presidential election in 2015, two years before his term expired because he knew the country’s economy was on the verge of collapse”.
The Premier said the present government’s first challenge was to find solutions to get the country out of this debt trap.
He said the government had been able to increase debt servicing (loan installments and the interest) steadily and had stabilized the economy. He said the previous government had launched massive development projects without any strategy to turn such giant entities in to profit making ventures.
Highlighting projects such as Mattala Airport, Hambantota harbor, Suriyawewa Cricket stadium etc the Premier said the current government has made arrangements to convert these projects into profit making ventures under the Public Private Partnership concept and thereby relieve the people from the debt burden.
“While the government is taking untiring efforts to convert these white elephants into profit making institutions, and generate income and employment for the youth in the country, we have not forgotten about other development work and social uplift of our citizens. We have reduced the cost of living, provided jobs, strengthen education and health facilities” he added.
The Premier noted that the country will have two fully-fledged and busy international airports by the year end due to these efforts.
He also pointed out that the government has initiated a number of trade and tourism zones in the country to support economic development.
“We have initiated new free trade zones in Hambantota, Kalutara Kurunegala,Colombo, Gampaha and also initiated tourism development zones in Galle and Chilaw,”the PM said.
The Premier said the government plans to develop both a trade zone and a tourism development zone in Kandy shortly.
He said the current government is engaged in a mission to bring investment to the country thereby generating employment and income to the country.He urged the public to vote for the UNP and usher a government which could develop the villages.
UNP Chairman Minister Malik Samarawickrema, General Secretary Minister Kabir Hashim, Ministers Lakshman Kiriella, Akila Viraj Kariyawasam, Gamini Jayawickrema Perera, Rajitha Senaratne, Rauff Hakeem and other leaders were present.
UPFA candidate Gemunu Bandara contesting the forthcoming election for the Ududumbara Pradeshiya Sabha pledged support to the UNP at the meeting.