Sri Lanka President announces budget; aims for a turnaround by the end of 2023
Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe on Monday presented the budget in the parliament as the minister of finance after a whirlwind year that saw the country face its worst-ever economic crisis. Sounding optimistic, Wickremesinghe said the Sri Lankan economy can script a turnaround by the end of 2023.
The president said economic difficulties had eased in the last few months and that talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) were ongoing to achieve economic stability. However, he asserted that economic reforms will not be limited to the IMF agreement.
Notably, in September, IMF announced a $2.9 billion bailout package for the island nation after prolonged talks between an IMF team and the Sri Lankan government headed by Wickremesinghe and treasury secretary Mahinda Siriwardana. Through the budget, the government is looking to ensure that the bailout money is quickly dispatched to usher in the reforms.
During the speech, Wickremesinghe attempted to correct the mistakes of his predecessors who tried to close the Sri Lankan market.
“I would like to define the new economy that we are going to build as a social market economy or an “open economic system of social Protection”. In this new economy, we focus on the following three main things, an export-oriented competitive economy, an environmentally friendly green and blue economy, and a digital economy.” said Wickremesinghe.
The Sri Lankan government expects to achieve high economic growth of 7-8 per cent in the coming year, based on reforms and modernisation. It wants Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) of more than $3 billion in the next decade.
A presidential committee will also be set up to explore state-sector reforms. Additionally, a proposal has been put forth for the appointment of a revenue authority.
Wickremesinghe also appealed to the youth of the country and asked them to take a new approach to build the economy.
“To ensure a better future for the youth of our country, let’s create a new economy tailored to meet the expectations of the youth through a new approach that goes beyond traditional protests, struggles, and strikes.”