May 23, 2018 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s Finance Minister challenging former President Mahinda Rajapaksa to an open television debate on the economy said that sound macroeconomic fundamentals exist for stronger growth in the island.
Addressing media on Tuesday he said that the islands economy has been strengthened with tax revenue, exports and foreign direct investments growing substantially in 2017.
“We have put a good foundation to the economy. Inflation is low at 1.6-pct in April, the lowest in the past 15 months,” Minister Samaraweera said.
“We have to remember that salaries are higher than it was three years ago and some food stuffs are below what seen during the Rajapakse regime.”
The minister says tax revenue had increased to 12.6 percent of Gross Domestic Product in 2017 from 12.3 percent in the previous year in 2016.
The total government revenue had increased to 13.8 percent in 2017 last year while government expenditure has dropped to 19.4 percent in 2017 from 19.6 percent in 2016.
“We have managed to maintain the governments investments at around 5 percent of GDP,” he said.
Samaraweera says that the Government in 2017 for the first time since 1992 recorded an excess in the primary account while the current account also recorded an excess.
“We are think the government will be able to cover all recurrent expenditures from government revenue this year,”
“The debt to GDP ratio has been reduced to 77.6 percent in 2017 from 78.8 percent in 2016.”
Unemployment was also down to 4.2 percent in 2017, the second lowest recorded in history.
With all these positive improvements the opposition is spreading false propaganda about the economy, the minister added disputing figures put forward by former President Rajapaksa.
“He is trying to mislead the general public with false information,”
“The people are also listening and accepting as it is being said over and over again. So let me call him for an open TV debate on the economy.”
The minister giving a breakdown of Sri Lanka’s debt repayments over the next few years said that a bulk of the settlements were for loans obtained prior to 2015.
“In 2019 the government has to repay 4.2 trillion and out of that 77 percent are for the loans obtained prior to 2015,”
“The loans obtained by the new government amount to only 970 billion rupees out of which 48 percent are to repay the installments of previously obtained loans.”