Colombo, October 6: Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe told parliament in a special statement on Thursday that it is “easy to criticize, find fault and protest but finding solutions is hard.” He therefore appealed to the members to “unite & face the country’s challenges together.”
He invited all to “join the mechanism of rebuilding the country through the parliamentary national council & parliamentary committees.”
The President assured that Japan will assist Sri Lanka in the Credit Reconciliation process and has agreed to co-chair the summit in negotiation with creditor nations. “We strove hard to re-strengthen the bonds with Japan during the past few months. Now we have a green light from them.”
Modi Expressed Desire to Help
Wickremesinghe said that he briefed Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Japan and received a positive response on his appeal to overcome the economic crisis.
“Sri Lanka hopes to come to a common agreement with creditor nations including Japan, China & India. We also commenced dialogues with envoys from other countries that have already provided credit facilities. Following discussions with the creditor nations, we expect to discuss with private creditors such as the London Club on debt restructuring,” he said.
“Government is aware of poverty among certain segments of society. We have taken measures to identify them & ensure their food security. Steps have been taken to provide fertilizer & seeds required for the upcoming Maha season,” he asserted.
“According to the 2019 tax policies, 14% of the GDP was earned through taxes but the change in this policy resulted in tax revenue dropping to 8.5%. Now we have discussed with IMF & agreed to increase it back to 14%.”
“Every citizen contributes to the 80% of indirect taxes, even the poorest of the poor. Changing this situation is the need of the era.”
“If we are to maintain free education & health, we must maintain Govt. tax revenue at 18% of GDP. The Govt. must earn revenue through taxes as we will have no future if we keep printing money.”
President said that as a short-term measure to build the foreign reserve, USD 2-3 billion is expected from restructuring State Owned Enterprises and compensation for the Express Pearl ship disaster will also be added.
The ADB has already assured a USD 500mn loan to Sri Lanka & after IMF certification a USD 1 to 3 billion Bridging Finance Facility is expected from the World Bank.
Appeal for United Action
The President acknowledged that each MP has their own political affiliation but warned that they would all be able to realize their political aspirations only if the country comes out of the crisis.
“I embarked on this political journey at great risk when no other political party/leader was willing to take the risk. We are forging this risky path slowly but steadily. The majority of the country supports this journey as they aspire for a decent life, country & future.”
“This journey can be strengthened & expedited only with everyone’s support,” the President said and called on all to put aside political vendettas and join this journey.
“It’s easy to criticize, find fault & protest but finding solutions is hard. So, let’s unite & face the country’s challenges together. I invite all to join the mechanism of rebuilding the country through the parliament national council & parliamentary committees etc,” Wickremesinghe said.