Sunday Observer Online


Sunday, 31 January 2016





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Government Gazette

EP lacks big investments - CM Naseer

The Eastern Province (EP) will be transformed into a leading tourism destination with an airport in Batticaloa to improve domestic transportation and boost tourism in the province, Eastern Province Chief Minister Naseer Ahamed said on the sidelines of the International Investment Forum to develop the Province.

The Eastern Investment Forum concluded on Friday on a positive note with over 300 foreign investors taking part in the event and showing interest to invest in the region. The Eastern Province besides its popularity for tourism due its serene beaches has enormous potential for agricultural, dairy and fisheries development.

Ahamed said there had not been a single major investment in the Province for several years.

Political stability alone cannot fulfill the aspirations of the people in the East who were battered by the devastating war for several years. Economic revival is crucial to ensure a better lifestyle for the people. “We are confident of developing the region with large foreign direct investments which would revamp industries and provide employment to youth in the area,” Ahamed said.

According to statistics, around 200,000 people are unemployed in the East. Data reveals that around 14,871 women in the region went overseas as housemaids in 2014.

The number of those seeking greener pastures is on a steady rise due to the lack of financial support to revive livelihood programs.

“Frustration has already set in among the youth in the East due to the snails pace of development and lack of employment opportunities in the region. Infrastructure development alone is not sufficient to put a war ravaged region back on track. The region needs mega foreign direct investments urgently to revive dormant industries,” the Chief Minister said.

Agriculture and fisheries were thriving industries in the region before the war. The palmyrah industry provided a steady income and sustained a large number of families in the region. The pristine beaches along Passikuda and Arugam Bay attract a large number of visitors to the East each year. The East coast is popular for whale watching and white-water rafting.

Ahamed said there should be more international brands in the tourism sector in the region. There is no major brand in the hospitality sector operating in the East to lure in travellers. The government is keen to build a domestic airport in Batticaloa. “However, my ambition is to build an international airport which will save travel time to key locations in the country and boost tourism.”

“Developing the entrepreneurial skills of youth through sound education is vital to restore age-old industries which have been the backbone of the economy. The region has been backward due to the lack of interest shown by policy makers to develop the province, even after the war ended,” Ahamed said.

He said there were no incentives to resuscitate the cashew, coconut, maize, peanut and palmyrah industries in the region and the fishermen lack modern technology. “We will upgrade standards to develop a vibrant agriculture, fisheries and tourism industry in the East. Steps will be taken to set up seafood export zones and increase the the region’s contribution to the country’s fresh milk production.”



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