Thu, 11 Aug 2022

Colombo [Sri Lanka], July 5 (ANI): Sri Lanka's Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on Tuesday challenged Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) leader MP Anura Kumara Dissanayake to revive the country's economy in six months.

Addressing the Parliament, PM Wickremesinghe said that he is ready to step down if Dissanayake can revive Sri Lanka's economy in 6 months.

Earlier, Dissanayake had boasted that he is capable of restoring Sri Lanka's economy in six months.

"So if there is such a plan, I am ready to resign and let him take up this position. I am ready to give up my position and support that program. Because the positions I hold are not new to me. At a time when the country has become anarchic and no one has taken responsibility, I have not accepted this position out of the desire for the chair," he added.

"It would be great if he has a plan to restore the country's economy within six months. With such a plan, we will be able to restore the economy in a short period of time. Not only that, but it also sets a good precedent for the world," said the Sri Lankan Prime Minister.

PM Wickremesinghe said that taking a country whose economic growth has fallen to negative ratings to a positive economic growth rate in six months is an action that has never happened in any country in the world.

Taking a jibe at JVP leader, Wickremesinghe further advised Dissanayake to lay out the plan of the country's economic revival to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa or to the Sri Lankan Parliament as that plan would win him the Nobel Prize in Economics.

"That is why I am asking MP Anura Kumara Dissanayake to submit this plan to the President. If you don't want to go to the President, present it to this Parliament. Let us discuss it in this Parliament. If that plan is better and more effective than the plan we are implementing now, we will implement it. Such a plan would be brilliant enough to win the Nobel Prize in Economics," said Wickremesinghe.

He further stated "if there is a more effective plan than the one we have presented, if there is a faster plan, then present it. We can discuss it. Run it the most effective path to recovery."Wickremesinghe said that the island country is participating in negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as a bankrupt country.

"Our country has held talks with the IMF on many occasions before. But this time the situation is different from all those previous occasions," he said in Lankan Parliament.

"We are now participating in the negotiations as a bankrupt country. Therefore, we have to face a more difficult and complicated situation than previous negotiations," Wickremesinghe said.

The Prime Minister further in the speech said that once a staff-level agreement is reached, it will be submitted to the IMF Board of Directors for approval.

Sri Lanka has been facing the worst economic crisis since independence in 1948, leading to an acute shortage of essential items like food, medicine, cooking gas and fuel across the island nation.

The country, with an acute foreign currency crisis that resulted in foreign debt default, had announced in April that it is suspending nearly USD 7 billion foreign debt repayment due for this year out of about USD 25 billion due through 2026. Sri Lanka's total foreign debt stands at USD 51 billion.

The economic crisis has particularly impacted food security, agriculture, livelihoods, and access to health services. Food production in the last harvest season was 40 - 50 per cent lower than last year, and the current agricultural season is at risk, with seeds, fertilizers, fuel and credit shortages.

Sri Lanka is one of the few nations named by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) which is expected to go without food due to the global food shortage expected this year. (ANI)

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