President Ranil Wickremesinghe emphasized that by drawing inspiration from the success of the Biyagama Free Trade Zone, a comprehensive strategy for modern commercial industrialization will be implemented throughout the country. This initiative aims to propel the nation towards rapid development within the next 15-20 years.
The President highlighted that the once-underdeveloped Biyagama area has made remarkable progress, largely attributed to the establishment of the trade zone. His vision extends to transforming Sri Lanka into an attractive investment destination, thus creating a wealth of fresh opportunities for global investors.
President Ranil Wickremesinghe conveyed these thoughts while participating in the centenary celebration ceremony of Al Mubarak Central College on Wednesday afternoon (6).
The President also pointed out that several locations, including Bingiriya, Iranavila, Hambantota, Kandy, Trincomalee and the Northern Province, have already been identified for the establishment of industrial zones. The President affirmed the government’s commitment to expedite this process, transforming these areas into thriving commercial cities.
Furthermore, President Wickremesinghe underscored the dedication of elected representatives to bring investment prospects to their respective districts while refuting the notion that industrial zones were unsuitable for Sri Lanka, citing the success of the Biyagama investment zone as the best in South Asia. He emphasized that replicating such industrialization models in every province would alleviate economic pressures.
President Wickremesinghe also emphasized the government’s dual focus on strengthening the country’s economy through the creation of new investment zones and generating employment opportunities for the youth.
During his visit to Malwana Al Mubarak Central College, President Ranil Wickremesinghe received a warm welcome from the students. To commemorate the college’s centenary, a commemorative stamp was issued and the foundation stone for a new three-story building was laid by the President. This historic visit marked the first time a sitting President visited Al Mubarak Central College, Malwana.
President Ranil Wickremesinghe left a commemorative note in the special guest book, inaugurating the college’s centenary memorial. He also awarded gifts and certificates to students who demonstrated outstanding skills at the college.
While addressing the gathering, President Wickremesinghe further expressed his gratitude for being invited to the centenary celebration of Malwana Al Mubarak College. He fondly remembered the school’s evolution from its early days as Walgama College to its present status as Malwana College. He acknowledged his role in supporting the school’s development and highlighted the importance of education in the Malwana community.
President Wickremesinghe shared the community’s aspiration to provide quality education for their children, noting the significant progress Malwana College has achieved over the years. He also recalled his promise to create employment opportunities in the area when he first visited Malwana in 1977. Upon entering this region and initiating educational initiatives, the President also made a promise to provide employment opportunities to the local community.
“Recognizing the need for industrial development in the area, Former President J.R. Jayawardena expressed his desire to establish the Katunayake Free Trade Zone and create a second free zone. The residents of this province provided invaluable support when I embarked on my political journey, particularly after President J.R. Jayawardene entrusted me with the Biyagama constituency.
The land required to establish this free trade zone was available only in this region. The coconut groves that eventually became the Biyagama Free Trade Zone originally belonged to the Muslims of Malwane. Remarkably, these individuals generously offered their land for this purpose, for which we arranged fair compensation. Concurrently, the Malwana area has experienced remarkable progress.
Despite scepticism from some quarters that Sri Lanka was ill-suited for industrial endeavours, we forged ahead with our vision. Simultaneously, the infrastructure of this province underwent substantial development. Notably, the Kaduwela-Biyagama bridge and highways were constructed. Approximately five years ago, significant improvements began to take place in this area.
Today, the Biyagama Trade Zone is acclaimed as the premier trading zone in South Asia. If the Katunayake and Biyagama trade zones were to merge, they would be unrivalled. Building upon the success of the Katunayake free trade zone, I also initiated the Seethawaka free trade zone to further promote industrialization. We launched Kaduwela factories, with Biyagama at its core, attracting foreign investments that have transformed the landscape.
As I stand here today, I am reminded of a time when ‘Bellakapapu’ junction had only two shops, but now it boasts numerous thriving businesses and substantial infrastructure development, including impressive buildings.
“In the present day, our region boasts a diverse range of factories, including a milk powder factory, a Coca-Cola factory, and even a beer factory. These industrial facilities have become significant sources of income for the local community. Today, the region is thriving, with no signs of economic distress. The remarkable development we see today is not limited to this area alone but extends to neighbouring regions like Kadawata, where transformation is evident from Kiribathgoda to Dalugama, turning Sapugaskanda into a bustling hub. The residents of Makola take pride in the prosperity they now enjoy, a situation vastly different from the past.
I recall a time when the tire corporation faced closure due to financial losses. However, we resolved to revitalize and develop it, despite facing substantial opposition and negative campaigns against my efforts. Today, not only do we manufacture tires for local consumption, but we also export them. Numerous other factories have sprung up, further fuelling the growth of Biyagama and Kelaniya, now recognized as expansive commercial and industrial estates.
An industrial park of the magnitude of Biyagama is unparalleled elsewhere in Sri Lanka. We aspire to expand upon this success and foster new developments in the area. Additionally, plans are underway to establish a new hospital at the ‘Bellakapapu’ junction.
In these trying times when our nation’s economy has faced challenges, we have attracted significant foreign investments to aid in its recovery. Ambitious plans are in motion to establish trade zones in numerous locations akin to Biyagama. Members of Parliament have been entrusted with the task of seeking investors and promoting the development of their respective regions. These initiatives must be diligently pursued.
Had trade zones like Biyagama and Katunayake been replicated throughout Sri Lanka, we would have been better equipped to navigate our current economic difficulties. Drawing inspiration from the example set by Biyagama, we are fervently advancing large-scale industrialization, with the aim of transforming Biyagama, Kelaniya, Kadawata and other areas into thriving modern commercial economies.
Suitable areas for development have already been identified in Bingiriya, Iranavila, Hambantota, Kandy, Trincomalee and the Northern Province. By extending similar facilities to these regions, we aspire to catalyse rapid development across the entire island within the next 15-20 years.
Our commitment to these plans is unwavering as we endeavour to bolster our nation’s economic foundation. Generating revenue is imperative to manage our debts effectively. Through these concerted efforts, we are working tirelessly to emulate the progress achieved by countries like Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia.
The Minister of State for Education, Aravinda Kumar also delivered remarks during the ceremony. In addition to the President, State Ministers Prasanna Ranaweera and Kader Mastan were in attendance, alongside the Principal of Al Mubarak Central College, Mr. S.H.M. Naim, staff, past and present students and other officials graced the occasion with their presence.
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