ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s job is to turn the economy around, an objective the government is now “very close” to meeting, and his party wishes to contest and “hopes to win”, Wickremesinghe said responding to a question on his re-election.
Speaking to journalists at a meeting with media representatives at the Presidential Secretariat in Colombo on Tuesday November 14, President Wickremesinghe said he has introduced a “new economy” sans politics.
“I have also introduced – which I want to do without politics – a new economy for Sri Lanka. Let’s debate on it [and on] where we’re going. Thereafter, let’s see what we are doing,” he added.
Wickremesinghe was responding to a question by a journalist on whether he and his United National Party (UNP) intend to contest the presidential election due to be held by October 2024.
The UNP was reduced to a single national list seat at the 2020 parliamentary election after a landslide victory by Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) presidential candidate Gotabaya Rajapaksa in 2019 triggered a mass exodus of UNP members to the newly formed Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB). The SJB contested the 2020 parliamentary polls leading its own alliance and went onto become the incumbent main opposition party.
Wickremesinghe said the UNP “wants to contest next time and they hope to win because they’re the only ones who spoke the truth and they had to go out of politics”.
“I think that’s going to be their strongest point,” he said, adding that the party will have a “lot of new faces”.
“Well, there are other parties also, in government and in the opposition who will contest. My first job is to ensure that we have terminated the bankruptcy. So once we have terminated the bankruptcy we’re introducing new plans. At that stage we have to decide what is going to happen,” he said.
“I come here to get all your support to terminate the bankruptcy,” he added.
Asked if would contest for the presidency himself if he was successful in turning the economy around, Wickremesinghe said: “What do you think I should do?”
The journalist responded that there might be a public backlash against her if she were to respond in the affirmative.
“Why should there be a public backlash? I think I’ll wait till it’s over,” replied Wickremesinghe.
“My job is to turn the economy around. We’ve come very close to it. And I have also introduced – which I want to do without politics – a new economy. Let’s debate on it. Where we’re going. Thereafter let’s see what we’re doing,” he said. (Colombo/Nov15/2023)