Govt ready to face any challenges – Cabraal | Sunday Observer
Despite Covid-19 pandemic

Govt ready to face any challenges – Cabraal

10 January, 2021

State Minister of Money and Capital Market and State Enterprise Reforms Ajith Nivard Cabraal said there is no challenge the Government cannot face as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and it anticipates having at least 5.5 percent economic growth this year.

“We would like to tell the Opposition that the country has passed and not failed. The Government has successfully faced the economic challenge. Unlike the Yahapalana Government, we don’t say we are not in a position to resolve this crisis. On every occasion, we have said that we would successfully face the challenge and provide solutions to it”, the State Minister told the Sunday Observer yesterday.

He said in the past few months, the growth has again turned towards the positive side. Everyone expected this growth to be low and minus. Of course, in the second quarter of last year, we were minus because of the fact that of the 90 days of the quarter, the country was locked down for 66 days. Therefore, we had a very difficult period which was a 16 percent negative growth. However, we are not different from anybody else as all countries went through that pain.

He said the interest rates were gradually reduced during the past six, seven months and today they are at a very low level compared with the rates of the previous Yahapalana Government.

The risk has been comparatively reduced and most people could do their businesses much better. That is why there is a change in the sentiments as far as all the businesses are concerned.

“We also see that the rupee has become stable. For a long time, the rupee depreciated at the rate of 6.8 percent during the five years of the Yahapalana regime and that was an enormous depreciation. During the past one year, we have controlled it effectively and the depreciation has been limited to 2.8 percent. If not for the Covid-19, probably we would have seen the appreciation of the rupee as well.”

He said there is no way that Sri Lanka would default on its loans. There is not an instance that it is possible for Sri Lanka to be in a position not to repay its loans. All those who are dealing with Sri Lanka, will be assured that all payments are made and bonds are honoured. All the deposits as far as the Government is concerned will be honoured.

Cabraal said we call upon the Opposition to ensure that these kinds of stories about disability in our economy will not be conveyed to the rest of the world to make it difficult for the country to move forward. We have seen how they did that in the past. Some of the current members of the Opposition also went around the world saying not to provide loans to Sri Lanka. We ask them again not to do that in the future so that we could move forward together as a country.

The State Minister said there are some projects which have been somewhat delayed and not on the right track. We are working towards ensuring that those projects will also be brought back on track so that we could proceed with greater amounts of economic activity in the next one year.

He said that we inherited a banking sector which was in total disarray. We found that financial institutions were also undergoing serious stress. Many of them were having problems regarding their liquidity. That has now been reversed. Stability is returning to the banking and financial sectors.

He said we have now also turned around. Just imagine, if the Yahapalana Government was in power, where would the rupee have been today? We maintained it despite all these difficulties at the same level when they handed over the Government. That itself is a massive achievement. We have reduced interest rates by half so that people can do their businesses. These are massive achievements and the people don’t realise these things.