The government has now created economic stability in the country disproving the predictions made by opponents and pessimists that it was heading for bankruptcy. The people are aware that the country is able to service the enormous debts bequeathed by the previous regime, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said.
He was speaking at a meeting in Padiyatalawa on Sunday after launching development work on the Badulla - Chenkaladi road from Bibile to Chenkaladi.The Prime Minister said the government was able to establish economic stability as a matter of priority, due to the difficult and unpopular decisions taken during the last three years. As a result, there were now sufficient funds to administer the country while servicing debts.
“Usually a government elected to power wished to start development work from Day One. But the yahapalana government could not do so due to the enormous debt burden left over by the previous regime. At first, the government had two options. It had to decide whether to increase VAT facing public opposition or to refrain from it to steer the country to bankruptcy. It bravely took the first option of increasing VAT and enabled the country to gain economic stability,” the Prime Minister said.
The Premier said the previous regime went for early elections before schedule because the country was in dire straits economically without sufficient funds to carry out the government’s daily operations. The country’s total income in 2013 was Rs. 1,137 billion, while Rs.1,162 billion was needed to pay premium and interest on foreign debt.
“Today, the government was moving forward by granting all forms of relief needed by the people notwithstanding their criticism.” He had instructed all ministers to go all out to cater to the needs of the people and their development needs.
The Prime Minister said despite various difficulties, the government had accomplished a great amount of work during the last three years. Steps had been taken to fill 4,000 vacancies for principals in the education sector, 854 vacancies in the Education Administrative Service and 1,700 vacancies in the teacher service. Measures had also been taken to cater to sanitation needs in schools by building 26,000 toilets.
“Steps were taken to provide stents free of charge to heart patients,” the Prime Minister said. “A range of medicines had been subjected to price control and cancer patients had been given a lifetime medical allowance of Rs.1.5 million. Under the ‘Nearest school is the best school’ programme, new school buildings have been provided to 3,000 primary schools and 1,000 secondary schools. All schoolchildren have been given medical insurance cover under the Suraksha programme.”
“The Mahapola allowance has been increased from Rs.2,500 to Rs.5,000. A Rs.20,000 allowance has been offered to expectant mothers,” the Premier said. “Work has been started on 1,100 reawakened villages and 10,000 plantation sector houses. Nearly 1,000 land deeds have been awarded up to the end of August. Jobs have been given to a batch of 5,000 unemployed graduates.”“The country has regained the GSP facility and this would help increase export income. The Hambantota Port would start operations soon,” he said.
Prime Minister Wickremesinghe said development of villages has begun under the Gamperaliya programme for which the government allocated Rs. 9,000 million. The Opposition which had got into a frenzy after witnessing the enormous development work in process had started making wild accusations that the government was mortgaging the country and hunting for war heroes.
They were doing this to sabotage the work undertaken by the country. This in itself proved that the government had accomplished a great amount of work for the wellbeing of the country and its people.“The people are free to judge the government’s performance and exercise their votes in its favour at the next elections if it has done something concrete for their benefit and welfare. The government has shown results notwithstanding all conspiracies hatched against it by its opponents.”
The total extent of the Badulla - Chenkaladi road is 175 kilometres. Altogether, 500 kilometres of roads would be developed in the Moneragala district, the Prime Minister said.The government would develop 3,700 kilometres of roads after paying contractors hired by the previous regime for road development work and paying compensation for people whose land was taken over for road construction.
When the Mattala Airport is developed by year end and areas like Moneragala, Ampara Padiyatalawa and Mahiyangana witness speedy development, everyone should unite behind the government to take the country forward, he said.
The Prime Minister said the handing over of the BIMSTEC Chair to President Maithripala Sirisena at the recent summit itself has disproved critics who claimed that the country had been marginalised internationally.The Prime Minister thanked everyone present including Ministers Kabir Hashim and Daya Gamage and Deputy Ministers Anoma Gamage and Sriyani Wijewickrema.