Regional empowerment a challenge - BPA chief
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