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
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
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.”