He made the call while participating as the chief guest at today’ (June 16) proceedings of the INCO 2012 premier industrial exhibition and trade fair at the BMICH in Colombo.
Guests of honour on the occasion were Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation chairman Mohan Samaranayake, president of Institution of Incorporated Engineers of Sri Lanka Upali Gunawardena and INCO organizing committee chairman Bandula Wimalasundara.
Mr. Gamage, also the national organizer of the UNP and opposition leader of the eastern provincial council, said contributions of the private sector were imperative if the country was to maintain at least a six per cent economic growth rate.
Immediately after the end of the 30 year war, the national growth rate was 10 pc, which the government later intended to maintain at 8.3pc, but the IMF has cut it down to 6.85 pc.
As a businessman, Mr. Gamage said, he knew that given the level of bribery, corruption, wastage, ineffiency and inability rampant in the government, he would be surprised even if a 5.5 pc growth rate would be manageable.
If the government failed to fulfil its responsibilities of minimizing wastage and corruption and assisting local businesses, even the unborn children would have to become indebted to the world.
However, the foreign investors’ confidence in the country was dashed after the government took over 38 private entities under the expropriation act, said the chairman of Daya Group of Companies.
One such expropriated entities, Sevanagala Sugar Factory, has crushed 24,000 tons of sugarcane, which could produce 1,920 tons of sugar, but there are records that only 800 tons of sugar were produced.
The unaccounted for amount of sugar has definitely been swindled, said Mr. Gamage.
Stressing that the country should have at least 15 billion dollars worth of reserves, he said the businesses have been severely affected by the high fuel prices in the local market despite reduced global oil prices.
Although Sri Lanka had boasted herself to be a friendly nation and won over all the countries in the past, the present regime does not at least have a proper foreign policy, he charged.
Around one million works who are depending for a livelihood on the 70 pc of the country’s exports being sent to the US and Europe will lose their jobs if those markets are not protected, Mr. Gamage warned.
He went onto say that INCO members are giving leadership to private sector institutions which are reaping speedy development.
The more than 300 entrepreneurs who are displaying their products at the trade fair and exhibition will make achievements similar to the development gained by Daya Group of Companies as the main sponsor of last year’s event, he added.