Only essentials will be imported, local production will be enhanced – State Minister

Shehan Semasinghe

The Government has taken measures to discourage import of items that could be produced in the country, but has nowhere said imports will be stopped, Samurdhi, Household Economy, Micro Finance, Self Employment and Business Development State Minister Shehan Semasinghe.

He told Parliament yesterday that the people would feel the productivity of those proposals at the end of the year 2021. He added that this government has been able to take the economy on the correct path amidst many difficulties despite the global pandemic. But the UNP failed in managing the country’s economy even when there was no challenge before them, he added.

He was responding to the allegations by Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) MP Dr. Harsha de Silva.

He said, when the Government was attempting to enhance local production and to reduce the import export deficit, the Opposition was standing against it. “Harsha is saying that there is no single country that was developed by increasing domestic production,” State Minister Semasinghe said.

He queried whether it was wrong to encourage the production in the country rather than depending on imports which only enrich foreign manufacturers and producers. He said that the Opposition is attempting to mislead the public with wrong facts. He said that the Auditor General had not said the reports were incorrect. He said SJB MP Harsha de Silva during his speech in the morning attempted to mislead the House without referring to the reports placed on his own table.

He made these observations in commencing the Committee Stage Debate for the last day on the financial heads Finance Ministry, Money and Capital Market and State Enterprise Reforms State Ministry, Samurdhi, Household Economy, Micro Finance, Self Employment and Business Development State Ministry under the Budget proposals for financial year 2021 presented to the Parliament by Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa on November 17.

He added that Mahinda Rajapaksa in his capacity as the Finance Minister had allocated Rs.7,000 million to cultivate 211,703 hectares with crops other than paddy.

He added that the UNP government cheated paddy farmers allowing their close associates to benefit. He added that the UNP government did not declare a certified price for paddy until the farmers sold their paddy to businessmen at Rs. 22 per kilo. Later the government imposed a Rs. 44 certified price and the large scale farmers sold them to the Government at Rs. 44.

“We have already allocated Rs. 800 million to buy the crops of the farmers,” he said.

He added that the government has allocated Rs. 10,000 million to renovate small scale tanks which in turn help irrigate 150,000 hectares of farming lands. He added that even during the UNP Government’s tenure the Samurdhi was politicised.

He queried why the UNP promised the people to establish the Volkswagen Company here and create employment. He added that it was a lie that was never came to light on the ground.

(Source: Daily News – By Sandasen MARASINGHE, Cameli Nathaniel and Amali Mallawarachchi)