Sri Lanka is the Easiest Place to Do Business in South Asia – World Bank
Sri Lanka is the #1 Travel Destination for 2013 – Lonely Planet
October 29, Washington: Embassy of Sri Lanka, Washington DC on Thursday (October 25) hosted the Network of South Asian Professionals based in the greater Washington Area. Nearly 50 professionals representing various industries, including Fortune 500 companies, attended this opportune event.
Over the evening Ambassador Jaliya Wickramasuriya briefed the young professionals on the latest developments in Sri Lanka. He elaborated both on the humanitarian mission that ended the 30-year conflict and post-conflict developments.
“We had an unfortunate conflict for 30 years. It was always a conflict between a ruthless terrorist outfit and a democratically elected government, though some tried to paint it as a war between two communities”, he said.
“When His Excellency Mahinda Rajapaksa was elected president in 2005, the main expectation from the people of Sri Lanka was for him to end this conflict that was taking a huge toll on the civilian population”, he said.
“Like all leaders before him who saw this conflict, he too tried peaceful methods to end it, but the terrorists did not heed. The objective of the campaign was to rescue civilians from the clutches of terrorism, which led to the humanitarian operation”, he explained.
Highlighting the country’s post-conflict achievements, Ambassador Wickramasuriya called Sri Lanka a model for nations trying to come out of terrorism-related conflicts.
“The end of the conflict left us with formidable challenges. We had to resettle nearly 300,000 IDPs. Before that, we had to clear over 5000 square kilometers of heavily mined land area, and reconstruct houses and other facilities. We had to deal with over 11,000 combatants and over 600 child soldiers who were recruited by the terrorists, and also we had to address the conditions that gave rise to terrorism to avoid recurrence”, he said.
The Ambassador pointed out that Sri Lanka has been able to meet these challenges with tremendous success due to its clear and systematic approach.
“Within three years we have completed resettling all IDPs. We have not only rehabilitated and provided livelihood support for almost all ex-combatants, but also reintegrated them to the society. Additionally, Sri Lanka reunited the child soldiers with their parents. The government is now in the process of implementing recommendations made by the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission to address the broader issues related to the conflict”, he added.
Finally, the Ambassador informed the audience about the misconception of Sri Lanka created by certain parties with vested interests.
“Some with little or no knowledge of our nation are engaged in negative propaganda against our country. These individuals and organizations have no interest in Sri Lanka’s welfare” he said.
He also shared some recent facts related to Sri Lanka with the audience.
“Last year Sri Lanka’s economy grew at 8%, and in the former conflict zone it was 22%. The unemployment rate has reduced to 4%. Last week The World Bank elevated Sri Lanka by eight positions on the Ease of Doing Business Index, ranking Sri Lanka at the top of the list for South Asia. Sri Lanka provides free education and health care to its people. Our literacy rate is over 90 %” he said.
The Ambassador invited all guests to join the Youth Ambassadors’ Tour to Sri Lanka. This trip will be organized by the Embassy next year to provide an opportunity for youth and young professionals to experience the situation in Sri Lanka firsthand and interact with young Sri Lankan professionals, while enjoying a holiday in this spectacular country.
“Tourism is one industry that benefited most with the dawn of peace. A couple of days ago the world-renowned travel magazine ‘Lonely Planet’ named Sri Lanka as the best travel destination for the year 2013. We invite all of you to visit Sri Lanka and bear witness to our success story,” he concluded.
The guests also had the opportunity to enjoy Sri Lankan food and a traditional Sri Lankan dance performance by Ms. Chathuri Wickramarachchi.
01. Ambassador Jaliya Wickramasuriya addressing the gathering during the reception for the Network of South Asian Professionals in Washington on October 25, 2012
02. & 03. Ambassador Jaliya Wickramasuriya with a guest at the reception for the Network of South Asian Professionals.
04. Section of the audience on the occasion
05. Sri Lanka tourism materials and economic publications were available for the guests during the event.
06. Embassy of Sri Lanka hosted a dinner reception for the Network of South Asian Professionals
07. Mrs. Chathuri Wickramarachchi performing a traditional Sri Lankan dance at the event.