If the present economic crisis continues, the people of Sri Lanka will have to forego one meal a day while it will lose everything it gained after the introduction of the open economy, former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said today.
Speaking during a meeting with some youth in Borella, Mr. Wickremesinghe said it will take a decade for the Sri Lankan economy to bounce back.
“The businesses lay off their staff as they have begun running at a loss. This will continue in 2022 as well. It will take a decade for the economy to bounce back. Households are already suffering. We during our government laid a good foundation. We improved health services.
I am sad as the programme, which we launched during our regime to pay the debts and to revive the economy has ended up in shambles. I am worried as the country might lose what it gained after the introduction of the open economy after 1977.
No one including the media is talking about this issue. They are afraid to talk as it had given a recommendation about the present government to the people. Even the media institutions are suffering today as they are not getting advertisements, they are running at a loss no one could deny it. One will have to forego one meal a day if the present crisis continues,” Mr. Wickremesinghe said.
“Sri Lanka’s foreign reserves have gone down to $4.5 billion while its foreign debt services for this year will also be the same amount. This is the first crisis. The previous government was able to increase the foreign reserves from $7.5 billion to $8 billion. We managed to generate revenue that was sufficient to meet day-to-day state expenditure, and we had funds to settle debt service to some extent.
The present regime gave high tax concessions to large scale companies. State revenue was lost as a result. The government had started printing money. The total amount printed up to now is three times higher than the amount which the previous Mahinda Rajapaksa government and our government printed. This has resulted in an increase in prices. This is only a beginning. One might see stars by the end of the year,” he added.
“The Government had asked for $2 billion from India and China. It is not clear whether it could get that amount. It will be not sufficient to meet the expenditure even if we get a portion of it. During our regime, we asked for certification from the IMF that we are capable of stabilising the economy. The present regime should also do it. It should go to IMF or look at another alternative of obtaining a certification from some other source. China is an option in this regard. The other issue is development coming to a standstill. There are a few projects which our government approved in 2019. However, some investors have called off some of these projects. One investor informed me that he had already invested in East Africa while another informed me that he had invested in Bangladesh.(Yohan Perera)