Sri Lanka’s President promises growth

Mahinda Rajapakse said he would press ahead with infrastructure projects.

Updated: Feb 04, 2011, 14:16 PM IST

Kataragama: Sri Lanka`s President Mahinda Rajapakse promised on Friday to promote economic development at all costs to make up for opportunities lost during the country`s separatist war.

In an address on the country`s 63rd anniversary of independence from Britain, Rajapakse said he would press ahead with infrastructure projects and double per capita income to over USD 4,000 in the next few years.

He also said he was ready to make unspecified "tough decisions" even if they were unpopular as the country battles high inflation.

"It is the nation`s responsibility to take hard and difficult decisions to bring light to the future of our children, rather than take popular decisions that will lead them to darkness ahead," the president said in Kataragama, 280 kilometres (175 miles) south of Colombo.

"Whatever the obstacles, we shall not delay to regain the lost opportunities for economic development," he added.

Rajapakse received a 21-gun salute and inspected a military parade which was followed by a cultural show by students.

The President, who is also commander-in-chief of the armed forces, said the nation should also work towards uniting the minority Tamils and the Sinhala majority after the end of the island`s ethnic conflict in May 2009.

"We must have the same commitment to building a united nation as we had in defending our country," he said.

Sri Lanka`s main opposition has boycotted the Independence Day celebrations to protest the imprisonment of former Army chief Sarath Fonseka, who failed to unseat Rajapakse at January 2010 Presidential Elections.

Bureau Report