While acknowledging that the economic situation in Sri Lanka is worse than in previous years, Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa said that Sri Lanka is not alone in facing such a crisis.
He made this statement during an interview on Ada Derana’s Hyde Park programme yesterday (18).
“Sri Lanka is not alone in facing an economic crisis. This is a worldwide crisis. The situation is severe compared to other years and if I had a good private sector that earns more to tax them and get more money into the government’s revenue, I would have done so. If people earned more money, then I could have taken that money and done some other things,” said Rajapaksa.
He further added that the opposition had many expectations from the 2022 budget, whereas he cannot please everyone and that he did not want to tax the people more and take more funds from the people.
“The opposition thought that I will tax the people and put additional taxes and try to get more money, but I did not do that. So they are not happy. I would like to give more to the people but I did not do that because I knew that if I do that, people will suffer again in the long run,” he stated.
When inquired by the interviewer whether the government would shy away from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Rajapaksa responded by saying that his initial plan was to seek a more permanent non-debt solution for the government.
“Our government has a cabinet of ministers which comprises of various types of people and different views on whether or not to approach the IMF. Some say we should approach the IMF whereas others say we should not. I am very balanced on this subject, but I want to make a collective decision. We have a policy, and we have to meet this gap on the dollar. I want to bring it towards a positive side by 2027,” he mentioned.
The Finance Minister further stated that he has a target set in mind and hopes to achieve it without obtaining more loans, adding that most of the reserves the government had were borrowed funds and a restructuring plan might be considered.
“This is not the first time Sri Lanka is approaching the IMF, we have approached them several times. We have not found a permanent solution yet. I want to find a solution that doesn’t depend on others, and I want to work with the people of the country, the investors and the private sector. Whether it is the IMF, World Bank, China or India, we must stand by ourselves,” he concluded.