Minister highlights remarkable surge in foreign reserves under President’s leadership
Colombo (LNW): Minister Manusha Nanayakkara has lauded the substantial improvement in Sri Lanka’s foreign reserves during President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s tenure.
The minister highlighted that upon assuming office, the current government faced a depletion of foreign reserves, but it has since made a remarkable recovery, reaching a noteworthy US$ 3.6 billion.
During a media briefing titled “Collective Path to a Stable Country,” held at the Presidential Media Centre yesterday (22), Minister Nanayakkara acknowledged the challenges inherent in making decisions that align with public sentiments.
He emphasised that prioritising popular choices often posed setbacks for the nation.
Despite these challenges, the government has successfully navigated obstacles and guided the country toward economic stability, according to the minister’s statements.
“Politicians are often expected to make decisions that resonate with the public, as popular choices tend to garner widespread support. However, there had a pattern of groups including us, protesting against these kinds of popular decisions. But unfortunately, such kind of approaches has led the country into economic turmoil.
Even the opposition cannot escape criticism, as they have protested against decisions aimed at national development, dismissing them as mere populism. It is essential to acknowledge that such actions contribute to the country’s economic downfall.
In our case, when we assumed office, the country faced a severe economic crisis with no foreign reserves. Expatriate workers possessed more assets than the Central Bank’s dollar reserves. Despite the challenges, the government successfully increased foreign reserves to USD 3.6 billion, preventing a collapse due to a lack of dollars for imports.
Upon taking office, rampant money printing had led to inflation. We addressed this issue and stabilised the exchange rate, reducing the value of the dollar from Rs. 365 to 320. This prevented people from resorting to the black market for foreign currency transactions, ensuring accessibility for education and international transactions.
The government also tackled high-interest rates, lowering them from over 25% to a single-digit figure within a year and a half. This allowed the country to secure loans from banks and foster economic growth.
In the past, the country experienced negative economic growth, but now we have achieved positive growth. The agriculture, industry and tourism sectors have all seen significant improvements compared to the previous year.
Efforts have been made to address public demands for systemic change. Tax collection has been streamlined, ensuring that everyone pays their fair share. Emigrants are also contributing significantly through substantial taxes paid in their host countries. Building a country cannot solely rely on tax concessions, as witnessed in the ‘Samrudhi’ initiative.
The government has initiated operations against the underworld and drug trafficking, although these efforts are criticised as mere media shows. Numerous policy decisions have been implemented to bring about the desired systemic changes. A program emphasising respect for labour has been launched and the country is undergoing a digital transformation.”