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DateLine Sunday, 12 August 2007

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Regional empowerment a challenge - BPA chief

 


 Regional products



H. D. Wijeyanandana

Regional empowerment and promoting national unity are the greatest challenges faced by the regional business community, chairman, The Business for Peace Alliance (BPA) and Director, Matara District, Chamber of Commerce and Industry H. D. Wijeyanandana said. "It is a long and arduous journey. We are optimistic and confident that with the collective effort and commitment of the regional business community, a significant difference can be made, he said.

The BPA network comprises, twenty-five regional business chambers representing ten-thousand small and medium - scale businessmen and businesswomen. The main objectives of the BPA are to generate peace dividends at the local level, to strengthen regional linkages and economic activity through the Chambers of Commerce and to lobby for regional aspirations through the inclusion of the regional private sector in economic development as well as the peace process.

The BPA chairman said that 51 percent of Sri Lanka's GDP comes from Colombo and the remaining 49 percent comes from the rest of the country, "This shows the wide disparity between Colombo and the rest of the country from where the bulk of raw materials are producted and the bulk of manufacturing is done," he said.

"BPA was started as an initiative of the regional chambers five years ago. "The regional chambers were motivated to start BPA as a network of our own due to the marginalisation of the regions. We realised the need for us-the regional business leaders to be proactive in the context of the drawbacks of the 'Colombo centric approach' by decision-makers in Colombo who make decisions affecting the regions," he said.

Wickramanayaka said that Sri Lankans have a sense of patriotism and determination to make local products sustainable by using them.

"The main reason for the depreciation of the rupee is the ever rising import bill. If this trend continues, making Sri Lanka a developed nation would only be a dream," he said.

The Annual General Meeting of the BPA was held in Colombo. Chairman, Master Divers and Mawbima Lanka Movement A. Wickramanayake and Managing Director Euroville - Engineers Constructors Ltd. M. Ramathasan were the chief guests.

wedaarachchi@sundayobserver.lk

 

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