By:Staff WriterColombo (LNW): Japan has extended every assistance to Sri Lanka playing a critical role as an investment partner in Sri Lanka’s fledgling electronics and electrical components sector, eminent economist and SJB mp Dr. Harsha De Silva said citing Professor Premachandra Athukorale, he noted that it is Japanese investments that are driving the fledgling mid-sized electrical and electronics component industry,
He disclosed that t export volumes had reached $500 million according government statistics but could be closer to US $1 billion if categorized more appropriately.
Shifting focus to the strained relations between Sri Lanka and Japan, MP Harsha pointed out specific instances that have contributed to this situation.
He criticised the government for unilaterally canceling agreements without consulting the Japanese, particularly the $2.2 billion Light Rail Transit (LRT) project.
The government at the time justified its decision by deeming the project costly and unsuitable for metro Colombo. However, he questioned the government’s sudden change in stance, highlighting that the minister responsible for urban development now acknowledges the LRT as the best transport solution for Colombo.
This contradiction raises concerns about whether political support or personal interests influenced the government’s decisions.
He started by acknowledging Japan’s significant contributions during the crisis and highlighted several key areas of support.
Among them, he mentioned that Japan supplied $46 million worth of diesel to hospitals, ensuring uninterrupted healthcare services.
Additionally, Japan provided $6.5 million of food aid, supplementing the previous $30 million already given.
MP Harsha De Silva commended Japan’s efforts in assisting women and other micro-entrepreneurs who faced hardships by extending $1.5 million in aid, as well as providing $4.5 million of free fertilizer to aid 250,000 farmers.
Furthermore, he acknowledged Japan’s provision of $4 million through the UNDP for agriculture.
Building on the President’s comments at the Nikkei Conference in Tokyo, Japan, regarding trade integration and debt sustainability, MP Harsha emphasized the need for Parliament to move beyond petty politics and gazettes.
He called for all Parliament members to unite in determining the future of the country, raising three key points. Firstly,
he asserted that trade integration and debt sustainability are strongly correlated, highlighting the importance of greater trade integration for stronger debt sustainability.
Secondly, MP Harsha De Silva dispelled the myth that severe import restrictions and export encouragement are the solutions, stating that Sri Lanka is currently one of the most closed countries in the region.
He stressed the failure that would result from closing borders and implementing high tariffs and duties.
Finally, MP Harsha emphasized the significance of trade integration in attracting foreign direct investment (FDI), advocating for Sri Lanka to become a partner in producer-driven global production networks by vertically integrating into complex production with investments from established brands.