ECONOMYNEXT – President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s 2024 budget, while not without its shortcomings, is a forward-looking budget that aims to ensure fiscal discipline and put Sri Lanka on the path to recovery, former president Mahinda Rajapaksa said.
Rajapaksa, who leads the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP), told parliament on Tuesday November 21, the last of the ongoing budget debate, that his party will support the budget, which he said contains strategies to avoid increased burdens on the public.
“The budget presented by President Wickremesinghe is a future-oriented budget. We are always on the path of the people. So we will fully support any budget that won’t see the people put in difficulty and is of use to them,” said Rajapaksa.
“We’re doing this not because the budget doesn’t have its shortcomings or things that need to be corrected. We believe that, along with the people, this country’s economy must rise again quickly. We will always support a programme that will create the backdrop for that,” he said.
The former president said the 2024 budget contains much to ensure fiscal discipline.
“Fiscal discipline is essential for a country,” he said.
“What the people want is for the country to be lifted up from where it is; not to cling to allegations and fall from the pan to the fire,” he added.
The SLPP leader was ostensibly referring to a recent Supreme Court ruling holding him, two of his brothers and several officials affiliated with the previous SLPP-led government responsible for Sri Lanka’s worst currency crisis in decades. Rajapaksa has said he does not accept the ruling.
“Historically, those who are critical always maintained that they alone were good. But when given something to do, they were unable to do it properly, especially at a time when it was most needed,” Rajapaksa said in his speech to parliament.
The SLPP is aware of the high cost of living, he said, adding that the party does not wish to see people suffer more and more economic burdens.
“The president showed in his budget speech that the government has a plan to avoid this situation. We believe such a plan is what the country needs now,” he said.
“In this house, a great allegation was levelled at us about the economy. We reject every one of those allegations. Those who now talk about taking away people’s civic rights, we remember what they did back then,” he added. (Colombo/Nov21/2023)