Country will be rid of debt burden by 2025, says PM

The country has achieved macroeconomic stability and by 2025 it will put behind the debt burden which the country has been grappling with all these years, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe assured at the closing ceremony of the Sri Lanka ‘Economic Summit’ organised by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce in Colombo last Friday.

He said the country had huge debts due to foreign borrowing by the previous government, which was spent on non lucrative ventures. We have to go beyond debt to manage the economy. The government has restored macro encomic stability and now it’s time to move on with growth. By 2015 we should have a positive record and debt will be around 55 percent of the GDP.Look at Vietnam and Bangladesh which had the same export turnover of US$ 2 billion as ours in the 1990s but today the export turnover of Vietnam is $ 165 billion and in Bangladesh its $ 35 billion.

“We inherited a debt laden economy where let alone servicing the debt paying the the salaries of public sector workers was a huge issue. At 2019 where are we This out to be our question. We cannot excuse ourselves for having a thirty year war. Vietnam had a war much before us since 1935. Despite the war we had garment factories opened up but we have been stuck to few traditional exports such as tea, apparels and solid tyres. If we do not go beyond this framework we will be way behind many of the competitors,’ the premier said.

He said the country cannot be running behind the IMF as a patient looking for treatment. We now need to move on with a strong export led growth economy. Our export revenue is yet around $ 12 billion when we have the capacity to do much more than that.

“There is a bigger debate than the transportation and cost of living issue and it is the debate with the private sector. Today’s domestic market players must be large scale exporters tomorrow. We are looking at trade adjustment policy. The Cabinet paper for this has been prepared for this. Para tariffs and cost of fuel are two major issues that is being looked into,” the Premier said.

He said the drought had its negative impact on the rural economy. Reforms such as the tax structure is being sorted out and the bureaucratic structure is being looked into with regard to the single window operation for investment. “We need to consider FTA with Japan, the EU and Chile. But the question is can we get at least 60 items for exports. Interest rates and the exchange rate issues need to be looked into but above all the global picture must be taken into consideration,” the premiere said urging the private sector and business chambers to take the lead and that the government will extend its fullest support in all the initiatives.

PM said the government will extend its fullest support you while also commending the move by the chambers to work together to develop the economy.

The two-day summit on the theme ‘On the fast track to a turnaround’ concluded on Friday.