The much-awaited economic reforms would be introduced to the country at a rate that the public would be able to accept them, the country’s Finance Minister said at The Asian Investor Conference in Hong Kong recently.
“It is not easy to bring in reforms. Reform options have to be presented in a manner to be accepted by the people and it is a process,” Minister Ravi Karunanayake said.
Karunanayake added that the government would focus on cultivating the capital market, public-private partnerships, foreign direct investments, entrepreneurship, elderly care,Colombo financial hub and Megapolis project.
He said that progress was seen through the recent budget, which presented 450 proposals, compared to 62 in the 2015 budget.
However, the 2015 interim budget had been full of populist giveaways, instead of the consolidation and holistic tax reforms that were needed to fund the country’s debt burden brought on by the previous regime.
The subsequent 2016 Budget saw some goodies being distributed on the one hand, but indirect tax increases on the other, helping neither to alleviate the debt burden, nor in providing logical and stable policies for the private sector.
With many proposals being reversed in January due to unpopularity, the government is set to present a revised budget in the near future. However, it has not been communicated exactly how the government will rectify the policy inconsistencies and move towards consolidation.
Meanwhile, Karunanayake said that the government had corrected the false facts distributed by the past regime.
“We corrected the figures and resurrected the ‘near crisis economic legacy’ bestowed upon us,” he said.
However, the Central Bank figures have not been changed and new statistics are based off of the old figures, while the government is seeking assistance from the International Monetary Fund to ease the ‘near crisis economic legacy’.
Further, in the new Right to Information Bill, the government is seeking to suppress the dissemination of any economic information.
Last month Karunanayake had said that he was not apprised of this policy and that he would look into the matter, showing further inconsistencies in policies, as he mentioned in the conference that the government was dedicated towards good governance and transparency.