Sri Lanka needs to achieve at least 6.6% GDP growth from now onwards if the country is to achieve President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s vision to achieve high-income status by 2048, SJB MP Harsha de Silva said on Thursday. Dr. de Silva has rejected the notion that building bridges with India would be disadvantageous to Sri Lanka and pointed to the opportunities arising from South India’s rapid growth.
“I would like to highlight Tamil Nadu’s success in becoming the ‘Detroit of Asia’ and highlight the potential for energy export from Mannar to India, similar to Bhutan’s hydro-dam exports,” he said.
Leveraging opportunities with India is also vital for Sri Lanka’s development, the SJB MP said.De Silva said there were critical issues hindering Sri Lanka’s economic progress and outlined a vision for sustainable growth through a social market economy model.
He said that India’s state of Tamil Nadu is projected to grow by 14 percent while Sri Lanka is expected to achieve a negative 3.5 percent growth.
“To realise the ambitious goal of high-income status, Sri Lanka must grow at a minimum of 6.5 percent annually until 2048. I have always highlighted the importance of identifying the right high-tech products or components and target markets to stimulate demand,” he said.
The MP said there are over 800 higher education institutes in India, particularly in Tamil Nadu, and that they play an important role in nurturing skilled labour.
“Sri Lanka produces very little skilled labour, which raises significant questions about the country’s ability to compete effectively on the international stage. To achieve sustainable economic growth and development, Sri Lanka must address the disparity in skilled labour and invest in educational reforms to bridge the gap,” he said.
The SJB MP added that signing bilateral and regional trade agreements, which would facilitate the free flow of goods and further promote international trade for Sri Lanka, is extremely important. He also said there is an immense potential for exports, especially in sectors such as electric vehicles, auto components, and telecommunications equipment.
The MP called for a “fundamental shift” in the country’s mindset and highlighted the necessity of a social market economy model to achieve social and economic justice.MP de Silva also emphasised the importance of elections and the need for a consistent development roadmap, independent of the ruling party.