President Ranil Wickremesinghe
President Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday declared that there can be no reliance on old economic models any longer and there should be innovative thinking, while paying prompt attention to the global changes.
The President made these remarks delivering the keynote address at the inauguration of the two-day “Let’s reset Sri Lanka” forum organised by the Advocata Institute.
President Wickremesinghe pointed out that whether the International Monetary Fund (IMF) proposal is good or bad, whether anyone likes it or not, it should be implemented to recover from the present economic crisis the country is facing. He also said that the Government has the right to question their proposals if any of them are cause for concern. The President explained that first and foremost Sri Lanka needs to enter into an agreement with the International Monetary Fund. Secondly, the most important is to secure a sustainable loan, any suggestions on getting the loan could be shared. The President further explained that those proposals could be presented to the Parliament for a decision.
President Wickremesinghe opined those changes in Government and State policies are fundamental issues that impinge on negotiations with the International Monetary Fund. While warning that many difficulties would need to be faced in the next six months, he informed that the International Monetary Fund also acknowledges that attention should be paid to the people affected by the economic crisis.
The President enumerated that the country should focus on the foreign debt issue, which is extensive and navigate through without getting caught into the geopolitics of the Asian region. He prescribed that the export-oriented economy, the renewable energy sector and use of nuclear energy be thought outside the traditional framework. The country’s future cannot be reorganised without developing its economy and therefore initially Sri Lanka should stabilise its economy.
During the 1997 Asian financial crisis which led to the Thai economic reversal at that juncture, it was the International Monetary Fund that guided the recovery, he said.
When the President recently visited Mahanayake Theros, the Nayake Theros also agreed to provide relief to the people through temples.
Observing that the underprivileged segment has grown in recent times, he regretted that school education has been disrupted due to COVID and the fuel crisis, and should be soon re-established, through which economic and social stability can be established.
The President outlined that modernisation of the agricultural and fisheries sectors, use of new technology in production, mitigation of climate change, problems faced by women, housing needs of the people and poverty in rural areas be given more attention.
He further said that we need to create a competitive economy with high wages and productive capacity and the need to build trade relations with Asian countries which have large growing markets. He referred to current world economic situation not being favourable for any country.
Thailand’s former Governor of the Bank of Thailand Dr. Veerathai Santiprubhop commented that there is no colossal financial crisis in Sri Lanka as portrayed in the international media.
He further said that to recover from Thailand’s economic crisis, measures such as privatisation of public institutions, protection of the most vulnerable people, institutional reforms, building credibility in the banking sector, appointing economic authorities into the cabinet, dealing with the International Monetary Fund, amending the necessary laws and seeking the assistance of foreign experts, were measures taken.
United National Party Chairman and MP Vajira Abeywardena, Samagi Jana Balawega MPs Dr. Harsha de Silva, Kabir Hashim, Mayantha Dissanayake and the Advocate Institute Chairperson Murtaza Jafferjee were also present.