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New Laws needed to overcome economic slump – PM

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Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena said that we need to enact new rules instead of relying on old regulations to get out of the prevailing crisis. He expressed this view addressing the Sankathana Mandapaya held at Temple Trees on Saturday (7) to mark the World Cotton Day.

The Prime Minister said, “World Cotton Day is a special day declared by the United Nations. It is declared as a special day because it is useful for the people of the world. We dedicate ourselves to make this day meaningful for the cotton industry.

“In every district all over the country, we encounter thousands of acres of uncultivated lands belonging to the Government. There is a possibility of using these lands for a useful purpose like cotton cultivation. We are ready to extend our support and commitment in this regard.

By expanding cotton cultivation through a continuous national programme, the income of the rural people can be increased and foreign exchange of the country can be saved. I appreciate the attempts of the private sector for that. Farmers and entrepreneurs need confidence to engage in this kind of cultivation. It is necessary to cooperate with our universities and other research institutes to expand this industry.

“An innovative system should be introduced to cultivate cotton in small gardens as an additional income. It has been almost a hundred years since we started creating agriculture colonies with the belief that we have the ability to raise our heads through agriculture. In those colonies, there is the possibility of cultivating on every piece of land. People need to be directed to that. We are ready to have discussions on this matter with relevant institutions.

“ Imported weaving machinery was available in certain buildings. Some were gifted to our country. These resources should be given to universities or entrepreneurs to focus on achieving goals. We must undergo such a change if we want to recover from the crisis. It’s necessary to enact new rules instead of relying on old rules. Countries such as the United Kingdom, the U.S.A, India, China and Egypt are still engaged in cotton production.

“We have to explain to the people about the production of seeds and the many benefits that can be achieved by seeds. By opening the doors of the working generation of villages with universities, the children can be trained and those who leave the university will be benefited to the nation in the future. We also import pieces of gauze from abroad.

Life index has decreased. But the prices of goods are not cheap. Even if the farmers produce surplus, the price is determined by the purchasing power of the people. Farmers need a satisfactory purchase price. An agreement should exist between the private sector and the Government sector on the prices.”

United Nations Development Programme Resident Representative, Azusa Kubota said: “Support of UNDP will be rendered to the Government’s efforts to develop the cotton industry of Sri Lanka with the active participation of the private sector and farmers. This industry with a history of more than 2500 years can be used to boost the economy of rural farming families. In addition to the production of cotton cloth, there is the possibility of starting various industries related to the cotton industry, which generates valuable products such as cotton oil and animal feed. This is a gateway to the world of fashion from the cotton industry and I call it ‘Farm to Fashion’.

Perseverance of Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena to uplift the rural people including small farm owners and small and medium-scale entrepreneurs, especially women is highly appreciated”.

Farmer Buddika Marasinghe said: “It is possible to start this cultivation on large-scale as well as a home-garden. Although it is a project that brings foreign exchange to the country in which the Government should be actively intervened, the support of the Government is not sufficient. The Government should implement a speedy programme to encourage the private sector, the farmer as well as the young entrepreneur to expand this cultivation”.

Polonnaruwa Welikanda cotton farmers presented a casket containing cotton seeds and products to the Prime Minister.

Minister Douglas Devananda, State Ministers Dr. Seetha Arambepola, Ashoka Priyantha, Vijitha Berugoda, Kader Mastan, MPs Jagath Samarawickrama, Yadamini Gunawardena, Ministry Secretaries, University Vice Chancellors, Heads of Government and non-government institutions, young entrepreneurs, farmers were present.

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