by Shiran Illanperuma
Colombo, August 7 (Xinhua): A new government in Sri Lanka has been endowed with a mandate from the new parliament to stabilize and revive the national economy while defending the country’s sovereignty, local experts said here Friday.
Sri Lankan voters have given a clear mandate to the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP), which won 145 out of 225 parliament seats in the elections which were held on Wednesday, to find a solution to economic woes including low growth, unemployment and rising costs of living, President of the International Business Council Kosala Wickramanayake said.
“The business community is expecting policy reform in order to boost the economy in the way of tax reform, ease of doing business and boosting local and foreign investment,” Wickremenayake said, adding that the SME sector which accounts for 75 percent of jobs and 50 percent of GDP was especially in need of support.
Wickremenayake added that the government should be commended for its efforts to contain the COVID-19 pandemic and the successful holding of the elections.
“This election victory is historic and comparable to the first post-war parliamentary election in 2010. People have given trust to the leadership of the president and prime minister to strengthen national security and protect the country’s territorial integrity and sovereignty from both domestic and external threats,” said Asanga Abeygoonesekera, founding director general of the Ministry of Defence’s Institute of National Security Studies Sri Lanka (INSSSL).
A nearly two-third majority in parliament ensures political stability for the next several years and strengthens the ability of the government to regain the momentum of economic growth, Abeygoonesekera said.
Commenting on the historic win, political and economic analyst and former executive director of the Pathfinder Foundation Luxman Siriwardena said that voters were expecting greater state discipline, including elimination of corruption from government institutions and increased efficiency of government services, especially in rural areas.
“The primary concern of the newly formed government will be to continue to protect the public from the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The government will have to create a conducive environment for foreign investment and negotiate with multilateral lenders in order to shore up foreign exchange reserves,” Siriwardena said.
(The image at the top is that of Colombo Port)