Opening the debate on the Rs. 1.6 trillion Vote on Account in Parliament today, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa said that the support of the entire House was needed to revive Sri Lanka's economy in line with its responsibility when it comes to finances.
Prime Minister Rajapaksa said the President and the government had got on with the task of reviving the economy with a sound understanding on the country's economic situation.
"The President and the government has undertaken this task with a sound understanding of the economic situation. Therefore, I request members of Parliament to support the government in line with it responsibility. The House is bound by the responsibility of nurturing the country's economy," the Prime Minister said.
The Prime Minister stressed that the rupee has been made stable with the government's policy of curtailing non essential imports. “It is the people of this country who will benefit from the curtailing of imports,” he said.
He said the country had utilized greater portion of its foreign reserves for imports.
Mr.Rajapaksa said the 160,000 graduates who would be absorbed into the state sector will be turned into a vibrant skilled task force. "We are a country that even imports kites and vesak lanterns," the Premier said.
"The external debt services account to half of the current debt services. The government has decided to review the projects worth Rs 9 billion. Local contractors should have been contracted to carry out some of these projects while there are others which have no economic benefits. However we do not intend to stop the projects but we intend to promote investments instead of focusing on borrowings," he added.
"Sri Lanka has spent Rs 521 billion on salaries and Rs 390 billion on concessions while a large amount has to be spent to settle bills . We have to meet this expenditure from the estimated revenue of Rs.910 billion for the first eight months of 2020," he said.
He said the government has been forced to bring in a new Vote on Account as the opposition did not allow the Vote on Account which was presented in November 2020. "This action by the opposition deprived the country of a better economy," the Premier said. (Yohan Perera and Ajith Siriwardana)