“The public’s anger, pain, and discomfort of having to stay in queues to obtain essential items when they are already unable to bear the cost of living is extremely justified.” Says President Rajapaksa While Addressing Newly Sworn n Cabinet Ministers; admits Folly of Fertilizer Ban and IMF Delay

In his address to the newly sworn-in Cabinet of Ministers yesterday (18), President Gotabaya Rajapaksa admitted that the Government should have entered into a programme with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) at an earlier date, while the chemical fertiliser ban was a mistake.

“We faced huge challenges in the past two years. With the Covid-19 pandemic and the debt burden, there were some shortcomings on our part. We need to correct them. We must go forward by correcting them. We must win back the public’s trust. I believe that we should have gone for an IMF programme before this. I also think that it was a mistake to not provide chemical fertilisers to farmers. We have now ensured that they will be given again,” said the President.

He expressed his extreme disappointment about the impact of the economic crisis on the people.

“The public’s anger, pain, and discomfort of having to stay in queues to obtain essential items when they are already unable to bear the cost of living is extremely justified.”

He said that despite the mistakes in the past, the responsibility of finding solutions to the present day’s problems lie with him – the elected President. Thus, he promised his electorate that no matter the challenge or hard times, he will face this challenge.

“Our priority now is to find solutions to the economic crisis. Without solving that crisis, no other problem can be solved. Thus, I have already taken some important decisions in this regard. I have appointed a new Finance Minister, along with an experienced Finance Ministry Secretary and Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) Governor for this purpose.

“I have also appointed a three-member economic advisory committee of experienced professionals. We must always tell the truth to the public. There is no point in hiding the reality from them. Solutions can only be found if we understand the problem and your agreement to this is necessary.

“We are facing a serious foreign exchange crisis at the moment. We must use foreign reserves to fulfill the essential needs of the public and find ways of bringing in forex as well. We have already informed our debtors about the inability to repay debt at this point and have already started a debt restructuring programme.”

Furthermore, the President noted that the aforementioned advisory committee has already started discussions with friendly countries and institutions such as the World Bank (WB) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) for further funding.

“We have received a credit facility from India for the import of fuel, medicines and other essentials. The World Bank has come forward to help us import gas, fertiliser, milk powder, and medicines.”

Moreover, the President claimed that a number of racketeers have emerged and are taking advantage of the economic hardships faced by the people, and added that the Government is however intervening to manage this situation.

“The legislative power of the country lies with Parliament. There is an opportunity to discuss in Parliament, the views expressed by various political parties on the required changes in the Constitution, and to approve the necessary amendments. I am ready to extend full support to Parliament at any time in this regard.”

He stressed that the Government has a responsibility to steer the economy in the right direction and build a country that fulfils the aspirations of the future generations.

“Necessary changes will be made in the future to salvage the country from the crisis while respecting the supreme Constitution of the country. I request all the people to extend the necessary support in this regard.”

Courtesy:The Morning