President addresses parliament on economic revival progress

(LANKAPUVATH | COLOMBO) – President Ranil Wickremesinghe arrived at the parliament this morning (March 06) to deliver a special statement on the progress of Sri Lanka’s economic recovery process.

The parliamentary proceedings, presided over by Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena, commenced around 9.30 a.m.

Addressing the Chamber, the Head of State said the citizens are now benefitting from the ‘strenuous efforts’ taken by the government to revive the economy.

“We made an ‘economic plan’ with the IMF. As a result of implementing this plan, the country returned to normalcy day by day. This reduced the pressure [on the people] and alleviated the hardships.”

Wickremesinghe further mentioned that the country’s economy, which contracted for six consecutive quarters, began to revive in the Q3 of 2023, while adding that international financial institutions have forecast a potential economic growth for Sri Lanka, ranging from 2% – 3% for the year 2024.

Speaking further, the President revealed that state revenue witnessed a significant growth of more than 50% in 2023 as opposed to 2022. “A surplus was achieved in the primary account last year. As a result, the government was able to settle all outstanding payments owed to contractors who had rendered services to the government for the past 3-4 years,” he added.

Meanwhile, inflation has plummeted from 70% in September 2022 to a mere 5.9% in February 2024, the President mentioned, attributing it to the coordinated macroeconomic demand management endeavours by both the Central Bank and the government. Inflation dipping to 5.9% offered respite to small- and medium-scale enterprises (SMEs) and consumers, he explained.

He also announced that the usable foreign exchange reserves, which stood at less than USD 20 million in mid-April 2022, have now soared past USD 3 billion. Further, import restrictions, except for private motor vehicles, have also been lifted now, he continued.

With regard to debt restructuring negotiations, the President said the successful outcome of these discussions will diminish annual external debt payment from 9.5% to 4 % of GDP. Additionally, if the economic growth experienced in 2022 and 2023 persists, the government revenue can be maintained at a substantial level, Wickremesinghe added, emphasizing that under these circumstances, servicing the debt will not impose a burden on the country.

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