(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) –Despite various economic difficulties and constraints, the government has been able to steer the country forward by providing extensive relief measures to the people.
The next step envisaged by the government is to increase foreign exchange earnings by developing industries and enterprises and totally rid the country of its immense debt burden, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said.
The Prime Minister was addressing a meeting after distributing Samurdhi relief among 5,400 families at the Edward Playground, Matale on September 15.
Last week, another 3,000 families received Samurdhi relief at a meeting presided by President Maithripala Sirisena.
The Prime Minister said during the last three years the Unity Government led by President Maithripala Sirisena has doubled the amount of monetary relief granted to Samrudhi recipients and offered the Samurdhi entitlement to a large number of new families.
Prime Minister Wickremesinghe said since 1995, new families had not been included in the Samurdhi benefit scheme.
“In 1995, they were able to grant Samurdhi relief because the UNP government had built a strong economy. Since 1977, the garment industry, tourism and industrial zone projects recorded a massive development. As a result, the Treasury had enough funds to pay the Samurdhi relief under the UNP government,” the Premier said.
The Prime Minister said when they took over the government in 2015, the country was englifed in an enormous debt.
“The country’s income was insufficient to even to pay back interest on loans. The former President called a Presidential election two yeas before schedule because he feared the imminent economic crash facing the government,” the Prime Minister said.
He said at the last election they took the responsibility of mending the country’s economy and they had kept that promise during the last three years.
“However, they could not achieve the expected targets in 2017 because they had to contend with floods in the South,the collapse of the Meetotamulla garbage mountain and several other national calamities. The price of coconuts sky-rocketed in the local market. The people blamed the government for these unexpected calamites and it faced defeat at the Local Government elections,” Prime Minister Wickremesinghe said.
“Allthough some clamoured for a postponement of local elections, they did not do so because they valued and protected democratic rights of the people,” he said.
The Prime Minister said despite the electoral setback, he was confident of saving the country through the pragmatic steps taken by the government.
“In 2019, our foreign debt will stand at 4,000 million dollars. Thereafter, they would be able to resolve this situation and more forward,” the Prime Minister said.