National Economic Council convenes for first time

President Maithripala Sirisena chaired the first meeting of the newly formed National Economic Council (NEC) at the Presidential Secretariat yesterday. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, Ministers and other officials were present

The National Economic Council appointed by President Maithripala Sirisena to take much needed decisions to strengthen the economy convened for the first time at the Presidential Secretariat last evening.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, Ministers Mangala Samaraweera, Sarath Amunugama and Susil Premajayantha, Secretary to the President Austin Fernando, Secretary to the Prime Minister Saman Ekanayake, Cabinet Secretary Sumith Abeysinghe, Finance Ministry Secretary, R.S.S. Samaratunga, Acting Secretary to the Ministry of National Policies and Economic Affairs, Shantha Bandara and the General Secretary of the National Economic Council, Prof Lalith Samarakoon participated at the meeting.

The President addressing the meeting had pointed out that the main responsibility of the Council was to make decisions on the country’s economy with prominence given to the local agricultural and industrial sectors. The Council was asked to summon when necessary government institutions, private industry, businessmen and farmers and to hold discussions with them regarding various policies.

The main aim of the Council,the President said was to implement speedy measures to eradicate poverty and strengthen the rural economy. The meeting also held lengthy discussions on economic policies, government finance, debt management and issues relating to the financial sector.

Attention was paid to the development of infrastructure in the districts and the President asked that officials pay attention to the ministries and government institutions which do not use the relevant budgetary allocations for the year, and instead return it to the Treasury. This he said affected the country’s development and public welfare.

The President also paid attention to the District Committee meetings held with the participation of public representatives and government officials. At the district level, the President said there was a need to implement the decisions taken at these meetings and the need to have them properly utilize the resources given to them for development work.

President Sirisena also asked that officials pay attention to financial institutions which operate in an irregular manner at the village level and those which grant high interest loans to the most vulnerable, increasing their debt and affecting the local economy.

The mandate of the Council, he said is to provide advice and guidance to the most important policies, agreements, and projects which are directly linked to the economic development of Sri Lanka.

The Council is expected to convene once every two weeks under the leadership of the President.

Prof. Lalith Samarakoon appointed National Economic Council Gen.Sec.

The Cabinet Paper to appoint Prof Lalith Samarakoon as the General Secretary of the National Economic Council was granted approval yesterday.

He is a financial economist who works is an advisor to the Asian Development Bank on Capital Markets and is the President of the Sri Lanka Finance Association. Prof Samarakoon has over 20 years experience in the field of economics and has published several publications on developing markets and international financial markets. 

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