Economic growth surpassed Govt’s modest expectation: PM

The country has achieved an admirable economic growth rate of 4.7 percent surpassing the government’s modest expectation of 3 to 3.5 percent in the wake of natural disasters and a heavy debt trap, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said.

“This gives us hopes of the growth rate reaching 5 percent soon,” the PM said.

The Prime Minister made this observation presiding over a meeting at the Neluwa Divisional Secretariat to review the progress of disaster relief activities in the Galle district on July 14.

Premier Wickremesinghe said the government was tasked with the responsibility of developing the economy while facing challenges posed by the recent disaster situation.

“When the government assumed power it was not in a position to even pay the interest due on massive foreign loans obtained by the previous regime. The foreign debt and interest repayable during the next three years would account to nearly one trillion rupees. Almost 35 to 36 percent of the GDP had to be set aside annually to repay these loans and interest,” the Prime Minister said.

“The Government’s objective was to increase income without getting into further debt to service loans. Today, the repayment of interest on foreign loans is not a problem due to the sound economic management introduced by the government. The country would receive massive investments once large scale development programmes are launched in the near future,” the PM said.

“The country would be able to gain foreign investment to the tune of 7 billion US dollars in the next three years. That could even be increased to 8 or 9 billion US dollars subsequently. When that money is invested, it would help increase export earnings to facilitate the resolution of the Balance of Payments problem and the country’s forward march,” the Premier said.

“The government hoped to bring about an equilibrium by 2020 and thereby enable the country to repay debts through the strengthening of the economy,”the Premier said.

“Although certain places in the devastated areas had received relief funds, there had been shortcomings in respect of certain other places. The prime objective of the government was to restore community life within a short period,” the Premier said.

He said the progress of relief work in Galle district was at a satisfactory level.

“Normally when a disaster occurred, the relief work which showed progress in the first month seemed to lag behind during subsequent months,” the PM said.

“This time, this situation did not crop up because the President and the Prime Minister had been constantly visiting the affected areas to review the progress of work,” the Prime Minister added.

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