May 19, Colombo: Leader of the United National Party (UNP) and former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has called on the government to launch a long-term program to safeguard the sectors of the local economy, which have been devastated by the coronavirus epidemic.
Making a special statement, Mr. Wickremesinghe says that about 10 percent of GDP should be allocated for the program to revive the economy.
“Coronavirus pandemic has severely affected the entire world economy. According to the forecasts, global economic growth will be around negative three percent in the future. Revenue from garment industries will be down 60 percent. There is no income from tourism. Foreign employment income will decrease by 20%. Foreign exchange earnings are down sharply. On the other hand, government revenue has come down. Meanwhile, the government's revenues will further go down due to certain policy decisions taken by the government. Therefore, our economic growth is expected to be around negative 3.5 percent,” Wickremesinghe explained.
He further said in the meantime the import restrictions have adversely affected the economy of the country.
“A significant percentage of our retail sales depend on imported goods. Also, a number of local industries use imported raw materials for their products.”
“Amidst all this, Rs 200 billion has been printed and issued to the market. When economic growth is negative, money printing can have a seriously negative effect.”
“Although recent media news focused on the queues in front of liquor stores longest queues were seen before pawn shops. From lottery salesmen to the three-wheeler driver, laborer to the artist, the self-employed and the people who are dependent on daily income, are destitute.”
“A number of private sector jobs are destabilized. It appears that at least 500,000 jobs will be lost.”
“The piecemeal solutions implemented now will not ease the crisis but will aggravate it. A number of local formulas that are capable of strengthening the economy are collapsing. A policy should be devised to protect these sectors from collapsing. Many countries in the world have invested heavily to protect these sectors. Many countries have allocated up to 10 percent of GDP. Unfortunately, our country has allocated a measly 2 percent of funds. It does not produce a result. If we do not take measures to safeguard these areas, our country will not be able to lift its head for many more years.”
“Therefore, I call upon the government to make an accurate assessment of the current economic situation and the future economic challenges and make a proper plan of action. With this plan, we will be able to lift the country upwards while protecting the economic sectors as well as the jobs.”