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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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Cardinal: Was there any link between passage of 20A and Easter Sunday probe outcome?

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… stands by his claim of foreign involvement

By Norman Palihawadana

Archbishop of Colombo Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith yesterday said that there could be a connection between the outcome of the probe into the Easter Sunday attacks and the enlisting of Muslim MPs’ support for the passage of the 20th Amendment.

The Cardinal said: “The leader of a Muslim political party voted against the 2Oth Amendment. But his MPs voted for it. The brother of Rishad Bathiudeen too was released around the same time. These are questionable developments. These events could be part of a deal.”

The Cardinal reiterated that international forces were behind the Easter Sunday attacks and that he did not believe that there had been any local political group directly involved in the Easter attacks.

Addressing the media yesterday, the Cardinal said that the remarks he made on Sunday had been misunderstood. He stood by his claim that international forces had been behind the attacks, he said.

“However, some people claim that I said a local political group was behind the attack. I have always maintained that there are international forces that use religious and ethnic extremists such as Wahabists to create conflicts. I was referring to such groups.”

The Cardinal added that only a small group of Muslims was involved in extremism.

The Archbishop also said that former President Maithripala Sirisena believed that taking action against extremists like NTJ leader Zahran Hashim would create unnecessary issues.

“Something along these lines is also in the PCoI on Easter Sunday attacks. The report also implies that the then Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was lenient in dealing with growing extremism in Sri Lanka.”

The Cardinal urged the government to protect the country and ensure that there would be no repeats of incidents like the Easter Sunday attacks.

The Archbishop of Colombo requested all religious leaders to work on rebuilding trust among all communities.

 

 

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AG appeals to Supreme Court against granting of bail to Ravi, others

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The Attorney General yesterday appealed to the Supreme Court against bail for former Minister Ravi Karunanayake and seven others indicted in the bond case by the Colombo Special High Court Trial-at-Bar.

The eight accused were arrested and remanded over the bond scams. Later, they were released on bail.

The court warned that if the accused attempted to exert influence on the witnesses, by any means, bail would be revoked and they would be placed on remand until the end of the trial.

 

 

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26 more coronavirus cases detected in Jaffna Tirunelveli market area

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Another 26 COVID-19 cases had been detected on Sunday, from the Tirunelveli Market in Jaffna, which was the epicentre of the recent outbreak in the town, Dr. A. Kethiswaran, Regional Director Health Services told the media yesterday.

The market and its surroundings had been reopened on April 11 following a 19-day lockdown. However, 378 PCR tests were conducted after the Sinhala and Tamil New Year and 26 of them proved positive.

Dr. Kethiswaran warned last week that there might be a spike in COVID-19 cases in Jaffna after the New Year celebrations.

A large number of COVID-19 cases had been reported in Jaffna in the past few weeks. Thus, the people should adhere to health guidelines. If people did not follow the guidelines, there would be a spike in cases and then some places would have to be lockdown, he warned.

“It’s too early to say whether we have to close the area down. We are monitoring the situation,” DR. Kethiswaran said.

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