【Colombo】Sri Lanka should never have given the control of Hambantota Port to China, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa told Nitin A. Gokhale, Editor-in-Chief of BharatShakti.in, in his first interview after his election.
He said that although China had been a good friend of Sri Lanka, he would consider it a mistake to have leased the port for 99 years. "I will request them to renegotiate and come with a better (deal) to assist us. So that is my position. We want to work with India very closely." Rajapaksa said that Sri Lanka wanted to remain neutral in its foreign relations. The President said that Sri Lanka didn't want to bandwagon one country.
"We understand the importance of the Indian concerns; we can't specially act or engage in any activity which will threaten the security of India that we know. We are in the region and India is a big power, is a big country. Though we want to be an independent, sovereign nation but we don't want to get involved. We have to understand the points of view of other countries and act accordingly.
But (what) everybody wants today, the most important thing, is economic development. A country can't develop while isolating itself and Sri Lanka needs to open up while protecting the country, the industries and business. Sri Lanka needs the assistance from India, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, China and Japan to achieve this objective. Yes, so rather than just criticising and I would like to even request the Tamil diaspora to forget these things, nobody is benefitted; rather we must work together to develop our country, help the people in our country irrespective of their community. I'm sure if the minority communities understand this. Everybody is a Sri Lankan citizen if they are born in Sri Lanka. They have equal rights, everybody, but they should not do certain things. They have to understand the reality."
○PM committed to a people-centred economy
【Colombo】The present Government is committed to creating a people-centered economy, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa said on November 25 speaking briefly after assuming duties as the Finance Minister. The Prime Minister was also appointed as the Finance, Economic Affairs, Policy Development, Buddha Sasana, Cultural, Water Supply & Urban Development, and Housing Facilities Minister in the interim cabinet appointed by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
He further said that: "All the plans and policies that are needed to rebuild the country's economy have already been prepared and now the government is in the process of preparing an organizational structure to implement those plans to provide relief for the people who suffered a lot due to economic-pressures. The President has also taken measures to implement the plans mentioned in his policy document to achieve the country's long-term financial goals."
Recalling the economic situation that prevailed in the country before 2015, Prime Minister Rajapaksa said the country's economy recorded a growth rate of 6.8 percent by 2014 and the economy grew from 24 billion US dollars in 2005 to 79 billion US dollars by 2014. He further said that during the previous regime, the country's economy was weakened and both investors and the people completely lost confidence in the government. "People who voted for President Gotabaya Rajapaksa expect a fast track economic development. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa's government will never break the pledges given to the people," he added.
President says control of H’tota port should never have been given to China
Committed to a people-centred economy - PM
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