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Cabraal makes fighting presentation on what will be done amidst dire circumstances to revive economy

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By Saman Indrajith

The government would enter into swap arrangements with regard to investment that should flow in through Treasury bills and treasury bonds, Capital Markets and State Enterprises Reforms State Minister Ajith Nivard Cabraal told Parliament on Thursday (10)

“Through that swap arrangement we are hoping to attract more investors to ensure that Sri Lanka will have a stable rupee and strong reserves, allowing us to confront any situation,” Minister Cabraal said, winding up the parliamentary debate on Notifications under the Ports and Airports Development Levy Act, Customs Ordinance and the Revenue Protection Act presented to the House for approval.

The State Minister said the revival of the economy would take time. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) had also said that in the current year the world would experience around 4.5 per cent negative growth but in that scenario, it was necessary to break free and move forward with more investments, Cabraal added. 

 “Attracting investment is going to be somewhat challenging but we are hoping to meet that challenge by providing comfort as well as confidence to investors from all over the world so that more money will come in.”

The State Minister said besides Treasury Bills and Bonds, Foreign Direct investments (FDIs), too, would be attracted. “There are many who have told us they are hoping to come into Sri Lanka with their investments and we are confident that before long investments will flow in.”

 Minister Cabraal noted that the Stock Market was picking up and in last one month, almost every day the turnover had risen to over one billion rupees. “We have also seen the All Share Price Index (ASPI) increasing and once there is a sustainable situation, we will see investors return to Sri Lanka. In the meantime, we have enough investors in the country as well.”

The State Minister said that the deposits within the country today in the banking and the non-banking sectors were approximately Rs. 10 trillion.

 “Out of this amount, if we can attract Rs 100 billion or one per cent of that amount, to the Stock Market, capital gains will be enjoyed by Sri Lankans and not by foreigners. As a government which is always concerned about Sri Lankan businesses and enterprises, we will like them to make a profit before others,” he said.

 Minister Cabraal said the country’s banking sector too had to be strengthened. “We saw during the past five years the consolidation programmes that we put in place prior to that ignored. We saw five finance companies collapse in the past five e years whereas not a single failed in the nine preceding years under our government.”

Minister Cabraal said those were the ways in which the government would tweak the economy so that it could go forward and ensure that Sri Lankan businesses and enterprises would thrive in the future.

“We also must implement these policies quickly and with confidence so that people all over the world will know we are a government that means business. We are off to a good start. The President has given clear guidelines to all ministers and state ministers unlike ever done before.”

 He noted that during the past five years, the economy had declined as never seen before. “After nine years of continuous progress we saw five years which was a complete reversal in the growth momentum. Due to the inconsistent policies between different aspects in government we saw poor implementation as well. On top of that there were the Easter Sunday attacks and then we had to face the COVID-19 crisis.”

Cabraal said that even though the new government had inherited an economy in decline,  after President Gotabaya Rajapaksa took office in November last year he had embarked on a mission to revive the economy to meet the COVID challenge, instill confidence of investors in the country’s economy and formulate policies to take Sri Lanka  forward.

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Foreign qualified medical students protest

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A group of foreign medical degree holders protested opposite the Presidential Secretariat yesterday (23) requesting that tangible measures be taken to conduct the Examination for Registration to Practice Medicine (ERPM) without further delay.

They alleged that over 1,500 students had been deprived of the opportunity to sit the examination due to the fault of the Sri Lanka Medical Council, which is now under investigation by a committee, appointed by Health Minister Pavitra Wanniarachchi.

Photo: A section of the protesting students (pic by Thushara Atapattu)

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SJB insists referendum necessary besides 2/3 majority in Parliament

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Supreme Court moved against 20A

By Chitra Weerarathne

General Secretary of the Samagi Jana Balavegaya Ranjith Madduma Bandara, MP, yesterday (23) filed a petition in the Supreme Court stating that the proposed 20th Amendment (20A) to the Constitution was inconsistent with the Constitution. It requires a two-thirds majority in Parliament and approval by people at a referendum for passage, the SJV has argued.

The SJB says 20A violates people’s sovereignty and franchise enshrined in Article (3) and (4) of the Constitution.

The petitioner has argued that the provisions in clause 55 of the Bill are inconsistent with the public trust doctrine and the principle of checks and balances and would prejudicially affect public finance.

 The clause 54 of the Bill seeks to repeal Article 156 A of the Constitution, which provides constitutional recognition to the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or corruption, the petition says.

 The petition says 20A seeks to repeal the prohibition on dual citizens being elected to Parliament and to the post of President.

The power of the Auditor General to audit the state institutions has been curtailed, the petition says, arguing that it could be detrimental to the economy.

It will be detrimental to the country if the Constitutional Council is replaced by a Parliamentary Council, the SJB General Secretary’s has contended in his petition.

Clause 20 (2) of the proposed 20A has restricted the powers of the Election Commission as regards the conduct of elections, the petitioner has argued.

The 20A states that an omission by the President could no longer be challenged through a fundamental rights violation petitions in the Supreme Court, the petitioner has said, adding that the Bill seeks to further enhance the powers of the President by allowing him to unilaterally remove the Prime Minister. The President would not be accountable to Parliament, the petition says.

The 20A would repeal Article 70/ (1) of the Constitution and enable the President to dissolve Parliament even immediately after a general election, the SJB General Secretary argues.

The respondent to the petition is the Attorney General.

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Lawyer Hijaz’s foundation received funds from banned foreign outfit – CID tells court

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By A.J.A.A beynayake and Kasuni Rebecca

The CID yesterday informed the Colombo Fort Magistrate Priyantha Liyanage that Save the Pearls Trust run by lawyer Hijaz Hisbullah, now in custody for allegedly aiding and abetting one of the Easter Sunday bombers, had received Rs.13 million from a banned organisation named the Caliphate of Qatar.

The CID told court that according to the bank accounts of the trust the money had been received by it during the last few years and the police had launched an investigation to ascertain whether the funds had been used for terrorist activities.

The CID told court the investigation had been launched under the Money Laundering Act and a psychologist’s opinion had been sought on the book titled “Navarasam” found in a madrasa (school teaching Islam) run by Save the Pearls Trust in Puttalam.

The Magistrate order the CID to submit to court a Sinhala translation of the book and examine whether the contents of the book promoted terrorism.

The case will be taken up again on October 7.

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