09/23/2010, 00.00
SRI LANKA
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Millennium Goal: Sri Lanka’s successes despite civil war and natural disasters

by Melani Manel Perera
Rajapaksa lists his country’s successes at the anti-poverty summit, says Buddhist values are the reason. In 17 years, poverty rate drops 11 per cent, as literary reaches 97 per cent.

Colombo (AsiaNews) – Sri Lanka went to the anti-poverty summit in New York that ended yesterday to show its great report card. Speaking before the delegates of 191 countries represented in the United Nations General Assembly, President Rajapaksa listed the successes achieved by his country, despite 30 years of civil war and the devastating tsunami of 2004.

Between 1990 and 2007, the poverty rate dropped by 11 percentage points, from 26.1 per cent to 15 per cent. Infant mortality is the lowest in South Asia with 19 deaths per 1,000 live births, better than India, the region’s major power, where it is still 30 per 1,000.

According to the president, the positive results are due to development programmes, like free health care and education, geared to build on and speed up socio-economic progress. Literacy has reached 97.5 per cent with gender parity.

Buddhist values are at root of this success because they guide economic planning and are informed by compassion for the weak and equality for men and women, the president added.

However, Rajapaksa, who recently consolidated his hold on power through constitutional changes, is concerned by the global economic crisis. Protectionism by rich countries threatens access to international public and private capital market, which is necessary to maintain economic growth in developing countries.

Discussing Sri Lanka’s challenges until 2015, the president said, “Every crisis while posing a threat brings an opportunity as well. Let us therefore resolve to use the opportunity afforded by our High-Level Meeting, to forge the strongest possible global platform to achieve the goals so necessary for our common good.”

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