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Thursday, October 6, 2022

Sri Lanka has made mistakes in making use of debt – Eran Wickramaratne

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SJB Parliamentarian Eran Wickramaratne assures that the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) would support the government when they follow the right policy and certainly the government will receive its support on economic and financial matters.

He said it is a favourable condition that the government has already appointed international advisors to work out the debt restructuring which is of paramount importance for sustainability.

He said this while speaking at a press conference held at the Office of the Leader of Opposition today (07).

Speaking further, Mr. Wickramaratne said that as debt sustainability is the first priority to be achieved before the country expects donor assistance, it has to be taken forward in a sensible manner.

“When we are dealing with this type of situation, we have to be very clear that standard prescriptions will always not work. Creating another problem when solving a problem will not work either,” the MP emphasized.

“We cannot create another problem at the expense of solving an existing problem. We cannot afford to give even a signal about a banking crisis in the country when there is no such crisis. We can’t go for solutions that will basically create a banking crisis,” said Mr. Wickramaratne.

“A haircut (debt reduction) on local debt cannot be entertained. But there are other solutions that can be looked at, and we will look at those solutions. So, the government and those who are involved in debt structuring should handle them in a sensible manner.”

He reminded that the President made a remark the other day on debt restructuring and the people need to understand its content. The international parties who are working on debt restructuring were talking about foreign debt restructuring and debt held by foreigners.

The Sri Lankan government that took debt in the past did not take good financial decisions, he charged. “Rather than putting debt on investments that give a return, we have put them on investments that did not give a return to the country.”

The MP also emphasized that those who gave debt also have the responsibility to ensure that the debt that was given is being invested in a proper manner. That would give the country economic and financial returns, he said.

“Instead of investment in human resources, most of the debts were invested in infrastructure development and largely in non-tradable sectors. We have made mistakes in making use of the debt,” he said.

“When we were talking of restructuring debt on the pretext that we have to expand the perimeter of foreign debt restructuring, we cannot entertain any other idea.”

When asked about the SJB joining the all-party government, MP Wickramaratne said that the SJB would support the government initiative in its efforts to solve the burning problems of the country.

He said there was no discussion on accepting ministerial positions.

On the issuance of fuel under a ration system, the MP said it was an issue with the supply of fuel. Since there is a scarcity of fuel the government has been compelled to introduce a ration system by way of a QR code system.

However, he urged that on the contrary, the government should give priority to three-wheelers and those who make passenger transport their livelihood.

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