Finance Ministry and Treasury Secretary Dr. P.B. Jayasundera warned that the lack of proper infrastructure facilities was the greatest challenge for posting a good economic growth around eight per cent.
Participating in a seminar on 'Post Tsunami Development Perspectives' organised by the Society for International Development (SID) at the Industries Ministry auditorium, Dr. Jayasundera noted that the budget had been presented to the satisfaction of domestic and international stakeholders, within a new economic policy framework in order to navigate the country's future.
Although a fairly decent growth rate of around 5 per cent had been maintained during the last 15 years despite adverse effects, the country has not addressed the fundamental economic problems yet, he said.
"The issue of having around 20 per cent unemployed youth, is still unresolved, as little employment generation has taken place during the period of over 30 years. The per capita income has reached around US Dollars 1000, predominantly around Colombo and Gampaha districts only. Our unutilised foreign aid is around three million dollars, with expectations of a further increase in the post-tsunami period", he said.
He said that free access to markets in India, Pakistan and the EU have been recognised with all free market policies in place. Financial markets have been substantially liberalised and there is sophistication in the foreign exchange markets. The country has attracted upmarket investors and the apparel industry has sustained the transition period successfully.
Jayasundera pointed out that for the private sector to be the 'engine of growth', re-thinking and re-positioning of the sector is needed. The partnership and strategic role of the State is also necessary. "We should not grab everything that is offered by the foreign donors, but instead take only what we require, like India and China does," he opined.
Jayasundera added that the escalation of oil prices in the international market has pressurised the 'Balance of Payments' (BOP), which had to be realised and adjusted accordingly.