Finance minister tells WB, Sri Lanka poised to leapfrog economy

Sri Lanka, under the unity Government headed by President Maithripala Sirisena and the Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe, is poised to leapfrog the economy after long years of conflict and political instability.

Minister of Finance and Mass Media Mangla Samaraweera told the Vice President of the World Bank Ms. Annette Dixon that the Sri Lankan Unity Government has been addressing key democratization issues with such democratic institutions maintain on checks and balances which are becoming deeply rooted.

“We are celebrating 70 years of Parliamentary democracy in Sri Lanka this year and the economy will be revitalized on the strong pillars of reconciliation and democracy with far reaching reforms,” the Minister emphasized.

The Minister also briefed Ms. Dixon on Sri Lanka’s current political and economic dynamics. The Government’s policy plan for next eight years was announced recently with the title “V2025 – A Country Enriched” with an open mind. It envisages economic prosperity for all Sri Lankans, based on the principles of a social market economy. With that in mind, Samaraweera said that his maiden Budget Proposals for 2018 will be presented to the Parliament on 9th November.

Sri Lanka intends to strengthen the policies suitable for a higher middle income, export-oriented economy. In order to achieve this target the Finance Ministry has been convening high-level meetings with the public and private sector stakeholders while gathering innovative ideas from diverse partners in order to broaden the scope.

“Currently we are evaluating the Customs Ordinance of 1869, as well the Excise Ordinance of 1912. Also extensive reforms are needed in our Labour laws, Housing and Land Laws,” Minister Samaraweera said.

Sri Lanka graduated from International Development Association (IDA) eligibility to International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) eligibility in July, 2017. The Minister appreciated the World Bank’s transitional support to face the interim period without an adverse impact on the economy.

Under the Competitiveness Development Policy Loan, the World Bank provided US $ 100 Million to Sri Lanka in 2016. The money was utilized for policy and institutional reforms. The eight priority reform areas achieved progress, including the enactment of Right to Information Act. Action is underway on the National Audit Bill and the introduction of the Debt Management Unit (DMU).

In conclusion, the Finance Minister informed the WB Vice President that the comprehensive public sector reform agenda is underway to improve the performance of State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) for better financial discipline, transparency, accountability. The Government prefers to dispose the nonstrategic and underutilized state assets, including SOEs. (Colombo Gazette)


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