Whilst stating that the International Monetary Fund ( IMF) had projected a 4.6 percent negative growth end 2020, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa told Parliament yesterday that he would present a budget aimed at creating a modern economy through ‘Vistas of Prosperity’ policy document.
“We have to, not only convert a negative economy to a positive high economic growth rate of six percent, but such growth should result in the eradication of poverty. I wish to remind this house that this is the vision of the “Vistas of Prosperity” policy as presented by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. I will present the proposals to create a modern economy in our country through “Vistas of Prosperity” to this House, through the budget speech 2021 on November 17” the Prime Minister said.
He said the IMF had projected a 10.3 percent economic contraction for India, 1.9 percent growth for China, 4.3 percent contraction for the United States. The Prime Minister said this situation had arisen as a result of COVID-19 pandemic.
However, he said Sri Lanka’s death rate from the pandemic is 0.3 percent which is lower than most of the other countries that have been affected. Prime Minister noted that Sri Lanka had spent Rs 70 billion in tracing COVID-19 infected persons, testing and research and for welfare activities. He said Sri Lanka currently conducts 10,000 PCR test per day.
“What is unique about our country and our government is that we recognise free health services and social security as fundamental policy tenets. Unlike the government of 2015-2019 which has now been ushered into the opposition, by giving our government a huge majority by the people of this country at the 2020 general election, has recognised the limitations of market forces within the government policy framework of “Vistas of Prosperity” and conducts itself with full commitment towards fulfilling the broad role of the public sector.
In spite of the increase in the number of deaths due to the effects of the unexpected second wave of COVID-19, we have been able to maintain a relatively low death rate at around 0.3 percent and leads in the prevention and quarantine process in comparison with many other advanced countries,” the Premier stressed.
“Policy of our government as stated in the budget is to change the disastrous socio-economic path that the country has embarked on, in the last five years. If the country is to achieve economic independence then it is mandatory that we change course. It is the responsibility of our government to reduce the income-expenditure gap to 4 percent of GDP by 2025 which now stands at nearly 10 percent and to reduce the overall debt to GDP to 75 percent of GDP within the next 4 years. It has become a national need to change our mindset to have faith in a production economy that supports exports and domestic production capabilities with fewer imports.
"A market economy that is dependent only on tea and apparels, with imports that is twice that of the exports without value additions to local resources and raw materials, will not facilitate sustainable development. Development aspirations of the people could not be met depending only on import led consumption and industrialisation without focus on Food security and agro industrialisation and allied services based on agriculture, fisheries and livestock development. We have to, not only convert a negative economy to a positive high economic growth rate of six percent, but such growth should result in the eradication of poverty," he said.
"I wish to remind this house that this is the vision of the Vistas of Prosperity” policy as presented by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. I will present the proposals to create a modern economy in our country through “Vistas of Prosperity” to this House, through the budget speech 2021 on November 17,” Prime Minister also said. (Yohan Perera and Ajith Siriwardana)