Business leader turned Investment Promotion Minister Dhammika Perera yesterday did not mince his words but bluntly called for the resignation of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe as Finance Minister alleging that the latter is not sincere in tackling the burning problem of the country – boosting foreign reserves and currency.
Dhammika’s broadside on the veteran politician and six times Premier was during a briefing of some of the new initiatives taken by former’s Ministry’s Department of Immigration and Emigration yesterday.
Perera said: “From today I am also starting my struggle (Aragalaya) because in my first seven days in the Government, I saw what is really happening.
As Finance Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe is playing a political game and that must be stopped. He is stopping all dollars-generating projects. He has no plans to enhance the cash flow of the country. He has no plans to ensure people have three meals. No plans to bring in more dollars.”
Minister Perera clarified that he has no issues with Ranil as Minister but stressed that “Instead of parroting the people’s problems, as Finance Minister he should deliver.”
Dhammika said that a month ago the 10-year Golden Visa scheme was approved by the Cabinet but the Treasury was sitting on it.
Alleging that: “Ranil has a habit of blocking projects bringing in dollars”, Dhammika said: “There are over 50 applications pending with each committing $ 100,000 to obtain the Golden Visa. There are over 300 in queues for the same. The delay means $ 30 million worth inflows are stuck for a month.”
Minister Perera said he was against such tactics on the part of the Finance Minister to lead the country to disaster.
“The Minister of Finance has no appetite to resolve the current ‘dollar’ crisis. All of Sri Lanka’s economic challenges are linked to the ‘dollar crisis’. The Finance Minister plans to borrow money from his friends. The Minister of Finance has no future cash flow planning for the country. Further, the Minister delays all matters related to dollar earnings, borrowings, bridging finance, available credit lines and essential goods credit lines. Because of these reasons the Finance Minister should resign,” Minister Perera emphasised.
Perera justified his outburst and criticism on the Finance Minister saying keeping silent at this juncture is a disservice to the country and efforts to resolve the crisis.
“If Ranil refuses to resign as Finance Minister, I challenge him and his so-called economic advisors for an open debate to prove the Finance Minister has no plans or he could prove he has.” Perera also recalled Ranil ducked the challenge at the 2019 Daily FT-ICC Sri Lanka organised Fireside Chat and left the event. “I challenge him once again for a fresh debate,” Dhammika added.
In a statement Minister Perera also detailed reasons why Wickremesinghe should resign from Finance Minister post. They are as follows.
a) Sri Lanka’s Minister of Finance spoke to international media and stated that tourists should not visit Sri Lanka during this period. As a result, Sri Lanka will not earn any tourism receipts.
b) The Central Bank of Sri Lanka has formulated plans to attract additional revenues from expatriate
remittances. However, the Minister of Finance announced in the media that, the USD will move up to Rs450. This statement of the Minister stops the influx of foreign remittances.
c) Finance Minister’s fortnight update on the current crisis sends out a signal for the rich to migrate aboard with their money. If so, this dollar crisis will continue.
At present, 200 families are leaving the country monthly. If we estimate that half a million dollars are
taken by one family, there is an outflow of USD 100million per month.
d)Inflation in Sri Lanka has never been this high. The Minister of Finance states that he will reduce the current inflation. However, the Minister has no plan in reducing inflation in the country.
e) Interest rates are high. This has impacted negatively on the survival of SME’s and other industries. The Minister of Finance has no plan to reduce the interest rates.
f) The Minister wants the exchange rate to be stabilised. However, he has no plan for this as well.
wants the exchange rate to be stabilised.
g) Sri Lanka’s debt to GDP ratio is 140%. The Minister of Finance wants the figure at 95%. However, he has no plan in getting the ratio reduced.
h) The Minister also publicly stated that Sri Lankans will only have 2 meals a day. This will make the rich stockpile goods. The Minister’s statement ensures that Sri Lanka will face a food crisis well in advance.