ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena has asked for cooperation from all parties represented in parliament in seeing the country through its ongoing recovery process.
Speaking in parliament on Thursday January 05, Gunawardena said the government, under the leadership of President Ranil Wickremesinghe, has made considerable progress in reviving the economy, establishing law and order and building confidence internationally over the past few months.
The prime minister also claimed that the government has encouraged critical views, some of which it has taken on board, and strengthened democracy in the country.
However, critics of the government claim that since the takeover of President Wickremesinghe, dissent has been actively discouraged, with strongarm tactics employed to “suppress” Sri Lanka’s historic protest movement that saw the ouster of his predecessor Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
The government has defended its actions, however, claiming that the authorities have only initiated legal action against elements within the protest movement that engaged in retaliatory violence or sought to destroy the state.
Prime minister Gunawardena said that compared to the situation in June and July last year where long power cuts, queues for fuel and debilitating shortages were the order of the day, a level of normality has returned in which people’s everyday needs are largely met.
“That confidence is now there around the country,” he said.
Critics argue that high inflation has made this semblance of stability meaningless to a majority of the public, particularly low income households.
However, Sri Lanka Central Bank is optimistic that further economic stability is achievable in the new year after the unprecedented financial crisis forced hard reforms.
The economy is projected to register a real contraction of around 8.0 percent in 2022 and record a gradual recovery from the second half of 2023 and sustain the growth momentum beyond, the central bank said.
“The monetary policy will remain focused on ensuring price stability over the medium term,” the central bank, which is in a deal to finalize a 2.9 billion US dollar International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan, it said.
Continuing his speech, Prime Minister Gunawardena acknowledged that cost of living concerns remain, but asked that “everyone unite” to find solutions.
“That confidence [that solutions can be found together] is now there,” he added.
With regard to ongoing debt restructure talks, which have been worryingly delayed, he said the government is committed to ensuring that talks with India and China are productive.
Gunwardena also called for bipartisan support in implementing reforms made through the 21st amendment to the constitution, particularly with regard to establishing the Constitutional Council. (Colombo/Jan05/2023)