Today marks one week since Sri Lanka resumed economic activities after being shut for 52 days following a COVID-19 outbreak which has left the globe shattered.
I am well aware that during the 52 days we remained closed, every single one of you has faced hardships and losses. Businesses have suffered, trading came to a halt, daily wage earners were the hardest hit and those employed were insecure if they would face job losses and pay cuts. All sectors were left bearing the brunt of this deadly virus.
But this pandemic was not bought upon by ourselves. Within months, the COVID-19 spread among countries, causing massive devastation, loss of lives, crippling economies and throwing major challenges at governments who are still trying to recover from the virus.
The virus, has today not spared even one country.
But in Sri Lanka, we faced the challenge differently. As you all know, once the first Chinese national was detected in January, the Sri Lankan government immediately got to work. A task force on COVID-19 prevention was formed with the participation of all experts and tri forces and since then, the virus was being monitored and studied closely.
However in March since the first local patient was detected, it was then a full out war for us. Today, three months after the first local patient was detected, Sri Lanka is proud to say that the virus has been limited within one cluster only and Sri Lanka never witnessed a community transmission.
Within three months, we have now resumed our economic activities while the threat of the virus has to a great extent been eliminated, despite Colombo being under a curfew. Now it is a road ahead to rebuild this country once again.
Just last week, the Sri Lanka Institute of Marketing launched the ‘Restart Sri Lanka’ program, under the leadership of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa to guide businesses towards success once again. With COVID-19 now being a major part of our lives, Sri Lankan businesses will now have to work around this threat but also use it to their advantage.
Already, we have seen how some businesses have begun exporting facial masks to global markets such as the USA, while there is now a demand for our ayurvedic products which helps boost the immune system. Further, Sri Lankan tea has also been in demand for a very long time and it can now be promoted to have health benefits to one’s system.
Post COVID-19 it is now obvious that the world has changed and demands have also changed in the global market. It is therefore time that we gear ourselves for this new post COVID-19 world and enter the global market to our advantage.
Further, it is now time that we, each one of us, thinks of first strengthening the domestic market and boost local production. A ‘made in Sri Lanka’ policy will not only make us self dependent but it will also limit our hardships if we are to face challenges in the future. It will also greatly add to our employment figures.
Keeping this in mind, in March I initiated the Home Garden Challenge, encouraging food growth within homes. Just within two months, the challenge has spread within friends, family, celebrities and citizens who I am yet to meet, all sending me pictures after having taken part in the challenge, many even with their children. This challenge is a small step towards a massive initiative which will very soon lead to food sustainability within the country.
Today, as I am a part of this ‘Restart Sri Lanka program, I do not want this to be limited within big time corporates only. I want to reach out to each and every one of you for your feedback on how you’ll can contribute towards restarting this country once again.
Therefore, I want to hear your ideas. Or you can even reach out to your area authorities or even politician and voice your opinions. I am always available to listen. You can contact me through my social media channels by dropping a message on my twitter, sending me a message on my inbox, reaching out to me via Facebook, instagram and even whatsapp.
11 years ago, on this very day, my father, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa was officially informed that the war was over and the LTTE were defeated. On May 19, 2009, he took a solemn pledge to restart this country and grow it to its true potential. Since then my father has never turned back and worked with utmost dedication to serve this nation.
Today, 11 years later, let us all unite once again, place our trust in Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and forge ahead.