Pic by Sameera Wijesingha
By Sandun A Jayasekera
The government is in the process of assessing the damage caused to the overall economy, the industrial, financial and banking sector and to tourism from the Easter Sunday’s terrorist attacks, Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera said.
He said if there was a 10% drop in tourist arrival, the financial loss would be around Rs.1.5 billion for the year.
The minister said Sri Lanka would recover from this terrorist attack by 2021 and bring the country back to the position it was on April 20 and told the media last afternoon that the government expected a 30% reduction in tourist arrivals this year and the tourist sector was the most affected from the destruction and the damage caused to the country by the Muslim fundamentalist attack.
“This carnage came at a time when the economy was picking up, financial stability was in place, reconciliation and inter-communal harmony were improving. The inflation rate was at 2.9% in March 2019 and that was the lowest inflation rate in five years, the rupee appreciated by 4.5% and foreign reserves stood at US$7.7 billion sufficient for imports for seven months. Last Monday, the day after the bomb blast, Development Strategies and International Trade Minister Malik Samarawickrama was scheduled to sign an investment agreement to the value of US$1 billion ,” he said.
The minister said the government was determined to minimize the damage caused to the economy while giving priority to the safety of all civilians and strengthening communal harmony.
“The government will set up ‘Citizen Peace Committees’ at every Grama Niladhari divisions to ensure ethnic co-existence and prevent any untoward incidents among communities,” he said and underscored the fact that 99.9% Muslims were peace-loving god-fearing Sri Lankans who co-existed with other communities for centuries.
“The Muslim extremist groups have attacked countries like Indonesia, Egypt, India, Spain in Asia and almost all the countries in Europe and the US.
The red alert is the highest alarm of a possible terrorist attack and a large majority of EU countries are under red alert despite the fact that all these countries posses technology, weaponry and intelligence to fight terrorism,” the minister said.
Responding to a journalist, he said civilians could not be taken into custody only because he or she has taken a photo with a suspect and as such Minister Rishad Bathiudeen cannot be taken in.
‘If so, Mahinda Rajapaksa can also be arrested for similar reasons because he has been photographed with so many who violated the law,” he said and requested not to use this terrorist attack to score political brownie points by attacking political opponents.
The minister said the need of the hour was to unite the entire country as one to face the threat.
Quote -- The minister said Sri Lanka would recover from this terrorist attack by 2021 and bring the country back to the position it was on April 20