National policy on economy tomorrow: Ravi Karunanayake

Ravi Karunanayake

Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake, while addressing the corporate sector yesterday, confirmed that a positive outlook over the country’s economy had optimized investor confidence.

He said that the Government would announce its national policy on the economy next Wednesday (25), which would provide a clear direction as to where the Government intended to take the economy during the next few years.

The Minister was speaking at an event entitled ‘A discussion with the Finance Minister’, which was held at the Hilton Colombo yesterday. The occasion’s other speakers were Tourist Board Chairman Rohantha Athukorala, Exports Development Board Chairman Bandula Egodage and Virtual Business School CEO Gajendra Liyanaarachchi.

Karunanayake further stated that the Department of Excise was able to collect Rs. 4 billion during the last 20 days compared to what the previous regime had been collecting in the corresponding period. Customs revenue too has increased to Rs. 12 billion during the past 12 months.

Speaking further, he said that the previous regime had only been able to collect Rs. 4 billion as excise duty for the whole year but the present Government had been able to collect that in one month. He predicted that by the end of the year, the Government would be in a position to collect Rs. 48 billion or more.

“With good governance coming into the system you will see that the revenue is flowing back into the system. This is just the start, I’m sure that the real income that should have come to the economy will bounce back into the system in the near future,” he added.

Describing his recent visit to the US, the Minister said that the Government had fruitful discussions with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (WB).

He also said that they were able to present a clear testimony of what the Government had done during last month and what they intend to do in the future.

Karunanayake said that the IMF would assist the Government to have more stability on the Balance of Payment (BOP) while the World Bank would continue to assist in lending support for better growth.

“One of the key requests made by both parties was to drive the economy in a cleaner, consistent and more transparent basis. We are getting three or four times more support than we used to get in the past from them. Thus, it is up to us to ensure that we walk the talk,” Karunanayake noted.

“The Government’s intention was to obtain unconditional loans where we could help the people of this country. Generally the IMF and World Bank provide loans with conditions, putting undue burden on the people. However, we have been very successful in convincing them to help us in a manner that will not force us to reduce spending on important sectors like health and education,” he added.

He went on to urge the corporate sector to give his Government a reasonable amount of time to prove that the expressway the country was now on was much better than the byroads it had been traveling on during the past 12 years.

( – Daily FT)