By Shiran Illanperuma
COLOMBO, Nov. 18 (Xinhua): Sri Lanka’s business community has expressed hope that the country’s new president would move forward with open market reforms, provide a conducive environment for local industries and attract foreign direct investments.
Sri Lanka’s Elections Chief Mahinda Deshapriya on Sunday afternoon confirmed that opposition candidate Gotabaya Rajapaksa won the presidential election on Saturday.
International Business Council President Kosala Wickramanayake told Xinhua on Monday that the business community hoped Rajapaksa would accelerate the development of infrastructure projects, attract more foreign direct investment and provide a stable policy environment.
“The business community welcomes the change,” Wickramanayake said.
Meanwhile, Chairman and Managing Director of Imperial Teas Group and Chairman of Colombo Tea Traders Association Jayantha Karunaratne told Xinhua that exporters would be looking to the new leadership to lower operating costs, improve access to credit, remove unfair taxes and provide policy assistance to make local exports competitive in the international market.
“The business community accepts the choice of the people and we are ready to work with the new leadership to develop the economy of the country,” Karunaratne said.
According to Siri Hettige, professor emeritus of Sociology at the University of Colombo, the new president “will have to bridge the widening gap between communities and deliver economic reforms to industrialize the country.”
Rajapaksa gained over 6.9 million, or 52 percent of the votes, defeating his opponent Sajith Premadasa from the ruling party, who gained over 5.5 million, or 42 percent of the votes.
After the final election results were announced declaring him the winner, Rajapaksa vowed to represent all communities regardless of their race and religious identity.