ECONOMYNEXT – Promises made by Sri Lanka’s two main contenders for upcoming Presidential elections is set to drive up government spending, as well as debt which has been by successive increases in state sector wages and monetary instability.
Gotabaya Rajapaska, from the Sri Lanka Podujana Party kicked off his inaugural rally in Anuradhapura, a farming district.
Rajapaksa promised free fertilizer, which is already mostly subsidized, commodity price support and loan sweeping loan write-offs, the cost of which is not known.
“We will give a good fixed price for rice in the market and storage facilities for the farmers so they can sell their product without selling them for a lesser value or without a middle man,” he said.
“And we will also cut off all the micro loans and any other loans of farmers for good.”
“We want to make the agriculture a sector that attracts the younger generation and we want t make farmers rich.”
He said agro chemicals may be worsening kidney diseases and promised solutions including new water projects.
Premadasa was speaking in the capital Colombo,
“We will start another project to give extra support to the people who are under the “Samurdhi” project,” he said.
The pre-cursor of Samurdhi program where now billions of rupees are spent on poverty alleviators who agitated made a provident fund paying authority into a government department with lifetime pensions, was started by his father, Ranasinghe Premadasa.
The new promises come as the current administration sharply raised salaries of public servants, and also hiked the pensionable wage. More hikes are planned for this year and next year.
However both candidates also promised initiatives which go beyond simple subsidies.
Rajapaksa promised new reservoir projects. He said farmers will be given the latest technology and higher quality seeds with better yields.
Premadsa said priority will be given for innovation and digital technology.
“We will start industries in every sub divisions to create jobs and fight unemployment population,” Premadasa said.
“We will prioritize export base production in the country.”
Rajapaksa also promised support for exports.
Rajapaksa said military personnel in custody will be freed after he comes to power.
He would also address a growing conflict between humans and elephants.
“We will take immediate action to make sure elephants will be not contact with humans by reconstructing their natural habitat, elephant passes and elephant, electric fences,” he said.
“We will take immediate action to take a permanent scientific solution for this problem.
“And I promise you to create an insurance that gives immediate compensation for the victims of elephant attacks.”
Premadasa said rising government debt was a problem.
“The debts and taxes has become a big issue to the society,” he said. “We will give the experts of the economy to decide on what we should do to strengthen the country’s economy.
“And these experts will be appointed based on their skills. Not on political influence.”