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* Sri Lankan President calls for Tamil leaders to work with the government
Fri, Dec 20, 2013, 09:09 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Dec 20, Colombo: Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa today made a request to the Tamil leaders of the opposition to come together with the government to find a national solution and achieve reconciliation.

Delivering the reply speech at the final budget debate in parliament, President Rajapaksa emphasized the need for all parties to act together to resolve the ethnic issue and achieve national reconciliation.

The President requested the leader of the Tamil National Alliance R. Sampanthan and Chief Minister of Northern Province C.V. Vigneswaran to joint hands with the government to create national harmony.

He noted that the government's budget is being passed in parliament in parallel to the passing of the budget of the newly established Northern Provincial Council.

He asked the opposition to correct the government's path by presenting constructive criticism. Sri Lanka can set an example to all the other countries affected by internal conflicts, the President added.

However, the President asserted that there will be no room for terrorism to resurface.

Speaking of the budget, the President said the government has been able to maintain a low budget deficit while accelerating economic growth due to the government's proper management of public finances.

The 2014 budget is aimed at reducing the deficit to 5.2 percent of GDP from this year's 5.8 percent without curtailing any capital expenditures on infrastructure.

The budget deficit was minimized while spending more than 6 percent of the national revenue for the country's development and the government has not privatized any state institute to curb the budget deficit, he pointed out.

The 2014 budget proposals include measures to accelerate the economic growth to attain over 7 percent growth rate while reducing the debt-service ratio to 78 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) from the current 80 percent.

Therefore, the President said it is totally unjustifiable for the opposition to make statements saying that the government has a bad finance management.

Despite the constant criticism of government economic policies by the opposition parties, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has commended Sri Lanka's solid performance in economy and measures taken to achieve macroeconomic stability amid the global economic downturn.

(Photos by Sudath Silva)

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