Excerpts from the speech of the President
Addressing the nation yesterday in a recorded broadcast, President Chandrika Kumaratunga unveiled her new Government’s policies and action plans for the future.

Excerpts from the speech of the President:
"A National Council for Economic Development (NCED) functioning under the President, is being created in order to streamline the economic planning process of Government, with the participation of the people’s representatives, private sector leaders, professionals and experts".

"A Strategic Enterprises Management Agency (SEMA) is also being set up to ensure the effective management of public sector strategic enterprises, such as the banks and power & energy institutions".

"Setting up of a National Procurement Agency is under way with the objective of minimizing corruption in the State institutions and cutting out delays".

"Education Reforms Programme of 1998 will be reintroduced with new vigour. The introduction of the new and modern curriculum, Information Technology, English teaching, the upgrading of one school per Divisional Secretary area with all the requisite facilities of the country’s best schools, have all re-commenced implementation on a priority basis".

"Paddy, tea and coconut will be given the status of national crops and cultivation zones will be established for one or two crops for the maximum utilization of specific soil conditions in the different regions of the country. Ten thousand small and medium scale existing irrigation tanks will be renovated".

"Government will undertake the modernization of existing fisheries harbours with better storage facilities, the promotion of new fishing technologies and the setting up of prawn farming zones".

"The government will continue to provide assistance to the large scale industrial manufacturers, including the textile and apparel sector. The policy adopted by the former People's Alliance government to establish bi-lateral relations with the EU countries will be strengthened".

"We will focus on the small and medium scale industrialists and entrepreneurs to spearhead domestic industry. Skills in technology and management will be given through increased training jointly by the State and the private sectors". "Small high quality upmarket resorts will be promoted.”

“In the housing sector, the transfer of urban shanty dwellers to apartment housing units through the REEL programme initiated by the former PA government will be accelerated".

"Government has commenced to implement a programme to increase the operational bus fleet of the CTB and to improve route diversity and frequency of the bus services. The private bus owners will be encouraged to abide by the requirements of the Government’s development plans".

"A comprehensive programme of modernisation of the railways is being drawn up and will be implemented". "Priority will be given to the early completion of the Colombo-Katunayake, Southern and Colombo outer circular expressways and other major roads. High priority will be given to the early implementation of our power generation plan, in order to move to a least-cost power generating arrangement by the year 2008". "The Galle and Hambantota ports, regional ports in the North and East, airport and air cargo villages will be developed". "A GDP growth of 6-8% will be our target while an important aspect of this policy is the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the North and East".

"In the area of budgetary and fiscal policy priority is to reverse the adverse trends in fiscal development due to the reduction of government revenue. A modern and efficient tax administration will be put in place. Losses to the state due to the tax amnesty law and other concessions, leakages and abuses will be corrected soon".

"Available foreign aid amounting to over US$ 3.0 billion and rupee resources of a further US$ 1.5 billion will be utilised for public investment". "It is planned to reduce the deficit further to 5% of GDP during the next 3 years".

"Local food production will be incentivised to increase production. A regular price surveillance mechanism will be introduced early, together with an Internal Rate of Return (IRR) index in order to contain profit percentages".

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