Japan’s Finance Minister Suzuki Shunichi commends Sri Lanka’s economic advancements

Japan’s Finance Minister Suzuki Shunichi

Japan’s Finance Minister Suzuki Shunichi

Japan’s Finance Minister Suzuki Shunichi, called on Sri Lanka President Ranil Wickremesinghe at the Presidential Secretariat in Colombo on Thursday evening (January 11).

Minister Suzuki who reached Sri Lanka on Thursday evening (January 11) for a two-day official visit has commended the economic advancements Sri Lanka has achieved.

Acknowledging the crucial role of bilateral partnerships in the nation’s development agenda, the high-level delegation engaged in discussions with the Sri Lankan leader.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe has expressed profound appreciation for Japan’s lead role in addressing Sri Lanka’s debt issues.

The talks have encompassed future collaborations, emphasizing areas such as information-technological cooperation, maritime-security collaboration, resumption of stalled projects, long-term bilateral cooperation, finalization of debt restructuring agreements and pipeline projects, according to the President’s Media Division (PMD).

Acknowledging the completion of the first review under the IMF program, the Japanese Finance Minister highlighted the international community’s recognition of the challenging reforms undertaken by Sri Lanka.

“There was strong recognition on that as well as all the other reforms. So congratulations. I think it really shows that you are tackling this extremely severe crisis with all the vigour that is needed to have Sri Lanka emerge from the crisis.

“I think there are very encouraging signs that the program is beginning to work, that the economy is stabilizing. So there’s, of course, all the signs with respect to policy-oriented variables in the fiscal area.

“With respect to revenue collection, in fact, we had a meeting that showed very encouraging numbers that basically highlight that the policies you implemented, beginning from after we reached the staff level agreement in the second half of 2022, are working, that they have the intended effect, that you’re collecting the revenue that’s needed to address the cause of the crisis. So, that really is very good news.”

He also mentioned that the ‘positive surprises’ in the economic situation have the potential to boost confidence internationally with official and private creditors.

Highlighting the authorities’ commitment to reforms, the Japanese Finance Minister lauded the achievements Sri Lanka has made such as a significant reduction in inflation through monetary policy efforts, a successful increase in reserves and the inflation of governance reforms.

Additionally, he mentioned positive signs of economic growth in the third quarter, indicating an overall favourable outlook.

Minister Suzuki’s visit aims to deepen economic relations with the Sri Lankan government and this visit is particularly significant amidst the economic challenges faced by Sri Lanka, prompting the implementation of comprehensive reform measures focusing on macro stability and debt sustainability.

According to the PMD, the Japanese Finance Minister has expressed strong admiration for President Wickremesinghe, while noting the significant improvements in Sri Lanka’s economy.

He has specifically mentioned positive trends in GDP and inflation indicators, attributing the progress to the President’s strong leadership.

Minister Suzuki conveyed deep respect for President Wickremesinghe’s demonstrated leadership in achieving these economic improvements.

“I realize that there has been a significant improvement in your economic situation. So, I believe that this is due to your strong leadership and I have much respect for that leadership that you have demonstrated,” the Japanese Finance Minister added.

The PMD said the discussions between the two leaders aim to fortify ties and lay the groundwork for a more robust and cooperative economic relationship between Japan and Sri Lanka.

The Sri Lankan delegation has briefed the Japanese counterparts on the progress of the debt restructuring with the insistence that the target for the completion of the debt restructuring would be within the 1st quarter of the year.

The two sides have discussed the resumption of stalled Japanese projects, with an emphasis being placed on projects such as the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) redevelopment.