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Cannot reboot SL's battered economy through painkillers: Wickremesinghe

Sri Lanka President Ranil Wickremesinghe on Sunday said he is fixing the debt-ridden country's economy by treating the "root cause" of the malaise and not by administering painkillers

Ranil Wickremesinghe, Sri Lanka PM

Ranil Wickremesinghe

Press Trust of India Colombo
Sri Lanka President Ranil Wickremesinghe on Sunday said he is fixing the debt-ridden country's economy by treating the "root cause" of the malaise and not by administering "painkillers", asserting that systematic change and national unity in conjunction with economic reforms are needed to achieve prosperity.
President Wickremesinghe made these comments through a series of tweets a day after Sri Lanka celebrated its 75th Independence Day.
Sri Lanka was hit by an unprecedented financial crisis last year due to a severe paucity in foreign exchange reserves that also sparked political turmoil in the island nation that led to the ouster of the all-powerful Rajapaksa family.
I'm not treating the superficial condition with painkillers. I am treating the root cause of the malaise. Many of the decisions I have been compelled to take are unpopular, but because of these, no citizen will die in queues or starve, Wickremesinghe tweeted.
From April to July last year, chaos reigned supreme in Sri Lanka, with miles-long queues forming at fuel stations and irate residents coming out in thousands blocking roads.
The Sri Lankan government in May last year declared a debt default on over USD 51 billion in the foreign loans -- a first in the country's history.
Despite obstacles, I will continue with the reforms. If we work in a united and planned manner, we can be a developed country by 2048. True freedom can be achieved and our collective responsibility is to build a new country where our children can compete with the rest of the world, he tweeted.
While we celebrate the 75th anniversary of our independence & honour those who worked hard for the country's freedom, let us focus on regaining the freedom we have lost today, he said in another tweet.
Wickremesinghe lamented that politicians borrowed for consumption and not for investment, which was the reason for the collapse of Sri Lanka's economy. He did not name anyone.
The resignations by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa in July and his elder brother Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa in May 2022 amid massive anti-government protests subsided with the formation of a government led by their ally Wickremesinghe.
Wickremesinghe, 73, as the country's finance minister is tasked with stabilising the economy and restoring the financial health of the economy, already hit badly by the pandemic.
We should modernise the economy & open it to the world. The corrupt political factionalism that deceives the people, making them dependent & poor forever, should be changed. This is the "system change" the youth have been demanding & why we have embarked on a new path of reforms, he tweeted.
The Sri Lankan President said the country cannot be satisfied with strengthening the economy, but called for a reboot of the entire system.
Issues faced by people in the North and East are being solved. We are taking measures for maximum division of power in a unitary state. However, we will never consent to the division of this nation, he added.
Sri Lanka's overall economic growth in 2022 was minus 11 per cent and it could be - 3.5 to - 4 per cent this year, President Ranil Wickremesinghe said last week, as the island nation tried hard to overcome its worst economic crisis since independence.
Wickremesinghe said the current negotiations with the global lender IMF for the bail out of 2.9 billion was crucial.
If the IMF programme is disrupted in any way, no one can prevent the country from falling into a crisis again similar to May and June last year, he added.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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First Published: Feb 05 2023 | 10:11 PM IST

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