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“Govt. has handled debt and stabilised economy” – Prime Minister

“Govt. has handled debt and stabilised economy” – Prime Minister
September 18
11:18 2019

(UTV|COLOMBO) – Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday reiterated his commitment to policy reforms to prepare the country to for a leapfrog trajectory to become the first advanced economy in South Asia.

He was giving the key note address at the ‘Sri Lanka Economic Summit 2019’ organised by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (CCC) in Colombo yesterday under the theme ‘Re-calibrating Sri Lanka’s Economic Trajectory towards 2020-2025’. The working draft of ‘A Collective Aspiration and Action Plan for Economic Acceleration’ prepared by professionals was presented to the PM by CCC Chairman Dr.Hans Wijayasuriya at the occasion.

“We are now an Upper-Middle income country. The question is whether we stagnate in the middle-income trap or have a leapfrog trajectory which will make us an advanced economy. We need to prepare the country. We have handled debt and stabilised the economy. Now we have a surplus in our primary budget. We have increased our revenue. Shouldn’t we safeguard this? For the last five years we had to take unpopular decisions for that purpose. That is the role of the Government. At the same time, we pumped enough money for the development of the rural, health and education sectors,” he noted.

He expressed confidence that the tourist trade which suffered a blow due to the Easter Sunday terrorist attacks would pick up by November.

“We cannot have an economic management system suited for a low-income country. We must have a fiscal policy that contains debt. There must be much larger space for investors. Our business climate has to improve. You must have reforms to boost private investments and productivity,” he added.

The Prime Minister observed that the economy has to be fully export oriented in the next 5 years and that the Government policies must ensure it is a private led growth focusing on tradable goods.

“We have two successful Free Trade Agreements, one with the EU for GSP+ and one with Singapore, opposed by many but bringing in results. We are building on the FTA with India. That is necessary. We are looking at FTAs with Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia. We need to have a highly competitive economy. We will promote trade adjustment packages to those affected,” he said.

“In these four years, we have made a massive investment on health and education sectors. We have more to do, but that part has to be done with the private sector. Agriculture and fisheries sectors must be modernised. The benefits will come only after 2025. A radical restructure is needed in our governmental system. We need a new outlook. We need to have a delivery oriented public sector to key areas. We need to rebuild trust. I cannot promise anything else. All I can request is to get-together to work to become the first advanced economy in the South Asia,” he remarked. He also noted that three trends stress global economy, namely ‘the trade war, sharper than expected slowdown of the major economies and shift of economic power to Asia’. He stated that two large economic conglomerations are coming into the Indo – Pacific with the negotiation of trade deals of ‘Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership’ and ‘Trans Pacific Partnership’ which will come into place in two years.

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