As concerns continue to mount on the stability of the operating environment amid lack of policy consistency, Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake on Monday urged the country’s business community to “stop doubting the system” crafted by the unity government. “You are in safe hands and the economy is moving forward. Stop doubting the system, the past is over and today we will ensure enough is invested for tomorrow.
That is how we will make certain there will be a multiplier effect for which you all will witness the benefit,” stressed, Karunanayake attempted to convince the private sector that the economy is on track and towards a positive growth trajectory. However, on the same day Karunanayake made these remarks, the country’s premier trade chamber, Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, urged the government for consistent policies, cohesive taxes and fast tracking of its decision making process pertaining to regulatory matters to boost business confidence.
Addressing an event organized by the Joint Apparel Association Forum (JAAF) that featured the cream of the country’s private sector, the Minister elaborated that his ministry is taking measures that “will only reduce the hardships” of the people, and is actively committed to passing on the benefits to them. “Today’s life is not easy but it certainly better than what was before 8 January 2015,” said Karunanayake—a claim that appeared to have amused a large section of the crowd in the audience.
To justify his stance, the Minister went on to compare prices of key products before and after the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe unity government took over. Items pulled up for comparison were petrol, which was Rs. 165 and now Rs. 120, sugar, then over Rs. 100 and now hovering around Rs. 80, and milk powder which crossed Rs. 400 then and now stands at an approximate of Rs. 290. Calling VAT the new buzz word, the Minister once again stressed, just as done on numerous occasions before, the government has inherited a difficult task, an economy that was “disguised” and handed over in a debt-ridden situation. He maintained that regardless of the challenges faced in striking a balance, the public would not be burdened.