“The people are suffering today because of the wrong policies of the three recent governments in managing the country’s economy,” says Dr Nalaka Godaheva, former Minister of Media and Member of Parliament.
He said this when he met with a group of professionals from the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna and the Anuradhapura district.
Some people think that the economy of this country collapsed during the time of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. That is not a correct opinion. His government also had a big responsibility in this regard, but this crisis started a long time ago. Many governments should be held accountable for this.
Meanwhile, the three governments that came to power after the war should be held accountable. After the war ended in 2009, the government started spending money on infrastructure development.
The government then proudly talked about things like ports, airports and highways. But the fact that the government took a large loan for these development activities was not noticed by many at that time. During 2009-2015, the country’s debt increased from 2200 billion to 7400 billion rupees. Among these loans, there was a large number of foreign loans. It was the Rajapaksa government in particular that started taking short-term commercial loans at high-interest rates. They had 5 billion dollars in foreign loans for this method.
We also take loans to improve our lives. Buying a car, building a house, starting your own business is often not possible with just the income we earn. So we have to borrow. But we need to increase our income so that we can pay our debts. If you don’t do that, you will gradually accumulate debts and get into trouble. The government also has several sources of income. Especially tax revenue, profits from government agencies, license fees etc.
But if this income is not enough, the government should bear the cost and do the development work. That’s why you have to take a loan that way. But even a government should think about how to repay the loan when it takes a loan. The government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa during 2009-2015 continued to borrow but did not plan how to increase the revenue to repay the debt. If the planes don’t come to the airport, which is being built by spending billions, where will the income come from?
There are One is the gap between domestic expenditure and domestic income of about 2000 billion rupees per year. And the gap between foreign expenditure and foreign income is only 7 billion dollars per year. Let’s say that the local income gap was compensated by molding money and letting the country’s inflation skyrocket. We cannot mold foreign currency. You have to find foreign currency.
From this year, we have to pay only 5 billion dollars in foreign debt and interest every year for the next 5-6 years. But since April this year, we have stopped paying foreign debt. In short, the country is declared bankrupt. It seems that this problem has been temporarily solved for our country, which was not able to import oil or gas in the past, because Mr. Ranil Wickramasinghe became the president and did some magic, not because more foreign money is coming to us now. This temporary relief is because we are a bankrupt government that has defaulted on its debts. It’s like the interval from hell.
You all know that when you go into debt and do not pay the debt, there is temporary self-indulgence, but one day the police will catch you and you will go to jail. That is why Sri Lanka can’t stay in debt all the time. Soon it gets stuck in the neck. We cannot bring anything from abroad. At that time we had no fuel, no gas, no fertilizer, no milk powder, no medicine.
Therefore, this is not a time to play, the government should get down to work without wasting time, but we still don’t see such a plan. Mr. Ranil Wickramasinghe has been Prime Minister for 3 months now. How many dollars were brought to the country? It’s been a month since he became president, has the cabinet been appointed yet?
We are concerned about these issues. We have clearly told the President that we do not want ministership or other privileges. Give them to those who scramble for them. They have special advantages from them. We are not the ones who expect them. We want to save the people of this country from suffering. Therefore, if the government does the right thing, we are ready to give our support at any time.
But instead of deceiving the people and solving the people’s problems like the previous governments, if they are ready to take the country to an era where corruption reigns again, we are ready to educate the people and fight against it.