- Tells private sector to step out of their comfort zones and embrace competitiveness
- Says what Sri Lanka is currently undergoing is not a reform process, but a “radical restructuring”
- Cautions of economic downturn if a U-turn is taken from current path
- Says everyone needs to align their policies with the reform framework
President Ranil Wickremesinghe addressing the Sri Lanka Economic Summit
President Ranil Wickremesinghe delivered a stern message to Sri Lanka’s private sector last evening at an event organised by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, questioning the nation’s prolonged dependence on seeking assistance from other countries.
“For how long are we going to be a beggar nation? For how long are we going to go and ask people to help us out each time because we didn’t do our math correctly,” Wickremesinghe told the inauguration ceremony of Sri Lanka Economic Summit 2023 held in Colombo, last evening.
He said the stakeholders of the economy must step out of their comfort zones and embrace competitiveness, emphasising that such an initiative is essential for the country to break free from the cycle of seeking external assistance.
“We expect other countries to give their taxpayers money because we made it wrong. We cannot go on like this,” he asserted.
At the outset, the President noted that what Sri Lanka is currently undergoing is not a reform process, but a “radical restructuring”.
He noted that the government has made significant progress in restoring sustainability, and has been successful in engaging in good-faith negotiations with all its creditors.
Wickremesinghe expressed confidence in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) concluding the first review of the EFF programme by next month.
Discussions with external private creditors are ongoing in parallel. While the government expects to reach an agreement on specific restructuring terms shortly, it is mainly relying on a long-term extension on the debt, he said
He cautioned that this marks the final opportunity for Sri Lanka to overcome its challenges and in the event of a new government opting for a U-turn, reversing the efforts made to address the crisis, the economy is at risk of experiencing a significant downturn.
Highlighting Sri Lanka is entering a new political era with this reform framework, the President said everyone has to make their policy within it.
He also underscored that achieving economic stabilisation alone is insufficient and there must also be a focus on getting the country’s economy back on the growth path.
“After we’ve stabilised the economy, what are we going to do? Are we going to again have a balance of payment deficit and be unable to balance our budget?
I can give it to you in writing. If we go on like this, you will have another crisis within 10 years. So we have to change as I say we have to be a competitive economy, export-oriented economy,” asserted Wickremesinghe.