(This article was originally published in Daily FT on 22nd July 2016)

By Ashwin Hemmathagama – Our Lobby Correspondent

Returning from a successful official visit to Singapore, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday updated the House on the details of his meetings, including the agreements brokered and support garnered for the development of Sri Lanka.

Prime Ministers - Ranil and Lee Hsien Loong of Singapore

Prime Ministers – Ranil and Lee Hsien Loong of Singapore

“I revealed to the Singaporeans the programs we have launched to transform Sri Lanka into a regional transhipment centre and business and commerce hub as well as the development taking place within our sea, air, highways, energy and telecommunication sectors. I told them about our plans to create one million new jobs, which will create a stronger middle class. The economic zones planned for Kandy, Colombo and Hambantota were also highlighted at the meetings I had.”

“The Megapolis Project in the Western Province requires $ 40 billion and the Hambantota economic zone $ 10 billion. These happen to be the largest development programs in the region and will affect the economy in this region,” said PM Wickremesinghe, who was confident the current Government could easily meet its development goals.

Outlining his plans to visit a few more countries in search of development support, Wickremesinghe said: “We also discussed proposed free trade agreements with Singapore in addition to the details of the agreements planned with India and China. The Singaporean Prime Minister promised to assist Sri Lanka to increase productivity within the state sector and also pledged support to develop our ports. I am looking forward to visiting China to discuss matters pertaining to trade and investment. We are also interested in developing economic cooperation with Japan. I will visit Japan to discuss related matters.”