PM confident of turning the electorate around | Sunday Observer

PM confident of turning the electorate around

PM Ranil Wickremesinghe

The UNP led coalition will turn around the electorate just like it turned around the economy after the Easter Sunday attacks, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said.

Speaking on some of the salient features of the UNP led term of office since 2015 at Temple Trees last Wednesday Premier Wickremesinghe said the Government managed a surplus in the primary budget even after grappling with catastrophic natural disasters, and despite the fact it was a sinking Economy it took over four years back. The Premier said if not for the Easter Sunday attack, the primary budget surplus would have been higher this year.

The biggest challenges at the takeover in 2015, he said, had been the ‘big debts’ and the need to urgently stabilise the economy, and also to win back investor confidence. “When we took over we could not even get foreign borrowings to pay off the foreign donors. We stabilized it by 2018 and that year we had a surplus in the primary budget,” the PM told media.

“Again in 2020 everyone expects us to perform the same way. Revenue has gone up and infrastructure for development has been laid. We should remember that investors will not come, just because there are tax incentives. You must have the necessary infrastructure. “

The PM observed that Sri Lanka, in a region which is moving fast, is currently on the verge of a takeoff.

“But we are also doing a transition to a upper-middle income economy. We have to move further up. We are ready for the transition with modernizing agriculture. Within six months of the Easter bomb we turned around the economy when the observers thought it will take nearly two years.

“It shows our economy is resilient, in the next five years we are looking at a 7.5 percent growth, our target to move up the ladder can be achieved with this growth rate within the next five years.

Despite a failing economy, he said the Government neither abandoned any project citing financial constrains nor did it say any project that was on the card was impossible. ‘In the midst of that we raised state sector salaries and other welfare allowances.’

“With the progress achieved so far, today we can take a major leap into the future and I am proud of that. I would like to thank everyone who was part of this impressive development,” he said.

A special website #ProgressingSriLanka was launched to create awareness on the key development aspects of the UNF government in parallel to the press event at Temple Trees. The event was attended by media representatives, professionals, civil society activists and members of the Bar.

Presenting some key features of the progress brought about since January 9, 2015 up to today, the Prime Minister said, “We resolved not to waste public funds to get publicity to the projects implemented under the Government, hence people are less aware of these achievements.”

The Government has begun and completed a series of development projects, to usher the country towards prosperity, and raise social and other indicators. “But no public funds were wasted on grand openings and useless ceremonies to please the leaders,” he pointed out. The PM said the press event on Wednesday was an effort to keep the people informed so that they could make informed decisions and will not be swayed by opposition claims.

He stressed what he was presenting was a gist of what the Government has done during the past four and half years. “If I did an actual breakdown of every single development project the government implemented during our term, it will take quite a long time,” he said.

He added that other than development aspects, he would like to underscore how they succeeded in ensuring freedoms of the ordinary people. “The free society that we created is mostly enjoyed by the media,” he stressed.

In addition, the Government has ensured an independent judiciary, depoliticised police department, while securing the right to information and courageously inking the much anticipated new Audit Act. After the presentation the Premier mingled among the invitees and was seen chatting freely and responding informally to a barrage of questions on topics ranging from bringing the subject of state housing under one ministry to the features of the New Democratic Front election campaign where he said he was confident of replicating the 2015 election win on November 16.

“We turned around the economy and we can turn around the electorate,” he said referring to the 2018 local government election result where the government performed badly. ‘It was due to personal votes being redirected. There were a lot of crossovers because as a coalition a lot of UNP ground level leaders could not be given nomination but the Presidential election is different altogether,” he said.

UNP General Secretary and Education Minister Akila Viraj Kariyawasam, Tourism Minister John Amaratunga and Defence State Minister Ruwan Wijewardena were also present.

Pic Vipula Amarasinghe