Thank you for that very warm welcome.
Distinguished members of the Sri Lankan business community, Honourable Ministers, Ladies and gentlemen,
It is my privilege to be able to meet with you all today. Firstly, let me wish all Sri Lankans a very Happy Independence day. It was a pleasure to be invited to attend this morning’s ceremony as a Guest of Honour.
Sri Lanka is not just a neighbour; it is a country with whom we share deep similarities - language; customs; and even in our cuisine. Sri Lanka has always welcomed Maldivians. This is why Sri Lanka so often feels like home – and we visit each other so often.
It is also why we find it easy to do business with one another.
In the last few decades, trade between Sri Lanka and the Maldives has prospered. Our Government would like to build on these positive foundations and look forward to welcoming more Sri Lankan entrepreneurs and investors to do business in the Maldives.
My administration continues to believe that the private sector remains the key driver of economic growth. Ensuring a stable, rule-based economic order, designed to facilitate ease of business is important to us.
Let me assure you that the Maldives will always remain a country open for business and that we are committed to encouraging foreign investment.
Both the Maldives and Sri Lanka are fast growing economies, reliant on similar sectors such as Tourism, and we face a similar set of challenges – from natural disasters to climate change. The areas in which we can collaborate and learn from one another, are many. The opportunities in these areas – such as in the field of renewable energy is also increasing.
I also wish to highlight that my administration is committed to ensure that the fruits of economic growth resulting from our increased trade are evenly distributed throughout the Maldives.
This is why we are committed to increase connectivity between our dispersed atolls, and building up the infrastructure and human resources of population centres, outside of our capital Male’.
We will establish more banking facilities throughout the country and facilitate the ability of our population to easily access credit and create an environment in which local small and medium business enterprises can thrive.
I also wish to highlight that the Maldives is very keen to realize the vision of more intra-regional trade, within the South Asian region.
Let us all commit to explore as many avenues as we can to expand and strengthen business partnerships between us, so that we can truly realize the ideal of a free flow of goods, people and commerce within the region.
I invite you, ladies and gentleman, to take the initiative, and take advantage of the many exciting business opportunities that the Maldives has to offer. Some members of my cabinet including the Foreign Minister, Abdulla Shahid, Minister of Economic Development Fayyaz Ismail, Minister of Planning and Infrastructure Mohamed Aslam and Minister of Education, Dr. Aishath Ali are here with me, along with some distinguished members of our business community who will be more than happy to speak further on these issues with you all. Please do take the time to introduce yourselves to them this afternoon.
Once again, it has been a pleasure to be here. I wish you all good health and fortune, and success in all your endeavours.
Have a wonderful afternoon.