Country in a debt trap due to flaws of Rajapaksa regime – PM

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday said that the country was trapped in a vicious cycle of debt due to flaws in the economic management and policies of the previous Mahinda Rajapaksa regime.

The Premier said the Unity Government took several measures to ease the burden on the people by increasing the salaries of public sector employees and pensions and reduce the prices of essential goods.

Although it wasn’t an easy task to put the economy back on track, the Prime Minister said the government has been able to repay loans and stabilise the economy amid many challenges. In this backdrop, the Premier said it was amusing to note the former leader who left the country in a vicious cycle of debt trying to speak about economic management and policies of the present government.

Prime Minister Wickremesinghe made these observations at the International Nurses Day-2018 celebration at Temple Trees yesterday.

President Maithripala Sirisena participated as the Chief Guest at the event which was organised by the Government Nursing Officers’ Association.

The Prime Minister said that the former President went on a failed election bid in 2015, held two years prior to the due date of polls, with the intention of establishing power before the economy collapses.

“The previous government doubled Sri Lanka’s debt. They knew they had no chance if the elections were held on time as the economy was collapsing under severe debt. This is why they went for early elections,” Premier Wickremesinghe said.

The Prime Minister said the previous regime reduced the allocations for the health sector and education and the cost of living had reached unbearable levels at the time. The Prime Minister further said that what they accepted on January 8, 2015 was nothing but an enormous amount of loans to settle. He added that the government has been able to settle them successfully.

“By now, we have been able to increase the foreign reserves to USD 9,000 million and we hope to bring it to the level of USD 11,000 by the end of this year,” the Prime Minister said.

The Prime Minister also said that the the UNP made Maithripala Sirisena the Common Candidate and won the election on January 8.

He added then they have given new life to the economy and allocated more money for the health and education sectors than any other government in the country’s history under President Maithripala Sirisena leadership.

He added that the private sector had no any hope during the previous regime but now they have. He added that the massive allocations made under this would not have been a reality had the Good Governance Government not been elected.

The Premier further said that Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne took measures to enhance the Health sector with Rs.25,000 million in allocations. He got more than two fold foreign funds which has to be settled.

“In the meantime, money is allocated for the heath sector under the Provincial Councils which is additional to the allocations made to the Ministry,” Prime Minister Wickremesinghe said. “A massive amount of money is allocated for the health sector under the finance head of the Higher Education Ministry as well.

Three medical faculties are being constructed with the allocation made to the Higher Education Ministry attached to the North-Western University, Sabaragamuwa University and the Moratuwa University.

Kuliyapitiya, Ratnapura and Panadura Hospitals would be Teaching Hospitals.

(Source: Daily News – By Sandasen Marasinghe)