Former Finance Minister, United National Party’s (UNP) Colombo district Leader Ravi Karunanayake alleged that the country went bankrupt not because of the governments, but because of the actions of the Central Bank (CB) and its officials.
He made this statement at a press conference held on Saturday (January 21) at his residence in Sri Jayewardenepura Kotte.
He said that the country has also collapsed now, while the entire world has collapsed. The Opposition is deceiving the people by telling fairy tales on the political stage. The Opposition does not have an agenda or philosophy or goal. There is no benefit for the country and the people from this Opposition, Karunanayake said.
“The International Monetary (IMF) Fund is not a Band-aid that can be applied to every problem. It is very difficult to build a country with the mindset of the people. Approaching the IMF is good. But we should act according to those conditions, while protecting local values,” he added.
“After 74 years, the country has collapsed because everything is given free by the government and everything is expected for free by the people, from birth to death. When the country’s income is two trillion rupees, Rs.1.8 trillion is spent on public sector salaries and pensions. Only Rs. 250 to 300 billion remains at hand. How can we move the country forward with such a small amount?”
“Increasing interest rates in the country is very unfair. Is it fair to cut the patient’s neck when it is possible to save the patient by cutting a finger? The bank interest rate which was between 12 percent and 17 percent six months ago has exceeded 30 percent today. But people’s wages have not increased compared to that. How can people bear this situation? Central Bank officials have no understanding of this reality. If the Central Bank continues to follow this system, all businesses in the country will have to be closed.”
“The main reason for this economic crisis is the continued devaluation of the rupee and the simultaneous increase in the interest rate. When a normal business allocates 30 percent of its income for interest and about 40 percent for salaries and other expenses including electricity and water, how can those businesses be run?”
As a solution for the current crisis, he said that there are people who can provide creative solutions to such situations and they should be given the opportunity.
The former finance minister further pointed out that digitization of public administrative affairs is essential and he mentioned that some government officials are unwilling to do so and that waste can be reduced through such measures.
The former finance minister stated that it is a sad situation to have to wait for months to get approvals from government agencies to start businesses and emphasised that a programme to give the necessary approvals speedily should be implemented immediately.
He pointed out that through the establishment of international universities and international hospitals in Sri Lanka, it will be possible to generate huge foreign exchange and it will be possible to increase the local income through the tourism industry, fishing industry and agriculture.
(Source: Daily News – By Dilshan Tharaka)