Four New Laws Aimed at Accelerating Economic Development
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Four New Laws Aimed at Accelerating Economic Development

President Ranil Wickremesinghe stated that he expects to increase the growth rate of Sri Lanka’s economy up to 3% by the year 2025 and mentioned that steps would be taken to increase the salaries of government employees.

The President made these remarks during the celebration of International Nurses Day at the Temple Trees, Sunday (12).

Addressing the gathering, the President mentioned that four key laws will be introduced to propel the country’s economy towards rapid development, along with fostering an export-driven economy. The first among them is the Central Bank Law, aimed at granting autonomy to the Central Bank is already enacted and the bills called Public Debt Management Law, the Public Finance Act, and the Economic Transformation Law are slated for submission to Parliament this June.

The President expressed his hope for everyone’s support in passing these new laws, stressing their significance in advancing the country. He highlighted the necessity of enshrining all agreements made with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other lending nations into law, underscoring the pivotal role these laws play in shaping the future of the country. He also appealed for the support of all political parties.

Reflecting on past economic instability, the President recounted how a coalition government was formed, transcending party lines, to steer the country towards recovery. He emphasized the success of this approach and urged unity in embracing the future economic agenda through the adoption of new laws.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe underscored the imperative of allocating substantial funds for education and healthcare in the future, affirming that this could only be achieved through the implementation of the new economic program.

International Nurses Day is observed annually on 12th May to honor the birth of the Founder of Modern Nursing, Lady Florence Nightingale.

This year’s theme, ‘Our Nurses – Our Future, The Economic Power of Nursing’, underscores the pivotal role nurses play in shaping our collective future.

Simultaneously, the President inaugurated the Sri Lanka Nursing University, unveiling its commemorative plaque through digital technology. Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena launched the official website of the State Service Nurses Association.

Further speaking on the occasion, President Ranil Wickremesinghe added:

Today is a very special day. Today, we commemorate the birthday of the Pioneer of Nursing, Florence Nightingale following established a nursing university. The inception of this university is attributed to the unwavering dedication of our esteemed Venerable Dr. Muruththettuwe Ananda Nayaka Thero, following an energetic battle. However, we have triumphed in accomplishing this feat. These universities can be initiated within existing structures and subsequently improved upon.

This university stands as a keystone in the life journey of Venerable Dr. Muruththettuwe Ananda Nayaka Thero. Besides nursing, it is imperative that these institutions also incorporate foreign language education. Proficiency in languages such as English, German, Japanese, Korean, and Chinese should be imparted here. Equipped with this linguistic knowledge, nurses can explore service opportunities in foreign countries. Particularly in countries like England and Germany, there is a prevalence of elderly care facilities. Furthermore, there is a growing interest in such investment ventures within Sri Lanka. Hence, this issue bears significant importance.

Today, the focus was on safeguarding the Treasury, a reminder of Alagiyawanna Mohottala’s Battle of Constantine where they faced encirclement like Dasa. Despite the challenges, our imperative remains the protection of our financial resources as we forge ahead.
Amidst this, our efforts have been directed towards extending concessions to government employees wherever feasible. Additionally, our sights are set on elevating salaries in the coming year. The past four years have been marked by profound adversity. Economic transformation only commenced in the last two quarters of the previous year following a prolonged stagnation since 2020, aggravated by both economic turmoil and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Also, the nation grappled with a severe malnutrition crisis, particularly affecting orphaned children, stunting their growth and portending future difficulties. Recognizing the urgency, we mobilized resources, engaging with the World Bank to secure triple the usual Samurdhi relief for the populace. Alongside, the group of beneficiaries expanded from 1.8 million to 2.4 million. Consequently, significant allocations were directed towards addressing this critical issue.

Additionally, we recognized the challenges faced by government employees and took steps to grant them a salary increase of Rs.10, 000. This action sent a clear signal for the potential elevation of salaries in both the private and plantation sectors.

In the last Yala, Maha seasons, we achieved success in our harvest. Similar to previous Sinhala and Tamil New Year seasons, these earnings will circulate back into the social economy during the upcoming Vesak festival. In this context, I am optimistic about our ability to achieve a 03% economic growth next year. Accordingly, our focus has once again shifted towards increasing the salaries of government employees.

I extend my sincere gratitude to the United Nurses Association for their understanding and support in this matter. Looking ahead, I anticipate further economic progress in the country next year. Without fostering this economic growth, achieving our goals will become challenging.

At present, we cannot print money. We have reached an agreement with the IMF, committing to refrain from printing money. Hence, our sole recourse is to strengthen our economic growth rate. Currently, we are in the final stages of negotiations with countries where we have borrowed from, with forthcoming discussions slated with private creditors. This trajectory positions us to avert bankruptcy by the end of this year. However, our economic challenges persist beyond this immediate hurdle. Even with potential loan waivers, outstanding balances must be settled.

Moreover, we engaged in the negotiations with the World Bank and the IMF to renovate our economic structure. The transition from an import-centric to an export-driven economy is imperative, and we have accepted to these conditions. Retreat from this course would expose the concessions we have secured. Thus, we are compelled to proceed in this direction.

It is imperative that we consistently maintain a budget surplus. If not we will fails to pay debt. It must be mentioned that all these decisions were made the betterment of the country. Now, we have to do is move forward along with an export-driven economy. To facilitate this transition, we have formulated a set of laws. While some have been enacted, others are still pending.

Foremost among these measures is the enactment of the Central Bank Law, which prohibits money printing and borrowing from state banks while granting autonomy to the Central Bank. Additionally, three other laws have been drafted. The Public Debt Management Act has been proposed thus far. This legislation sets limits on borrowing, stipulating conditions for loan acquisition and repayment in accordance with specified criteria.

Moreover, we have introduced the State Finance Bill. Previously, financial regulation was overseen by the Fiscal Responsibility Act (FR), but now our focus is on legislating financial control. This new law will govern the management of government funds, revenue collection, and monetary distribution, shaping our financial landscape for the future. We are presenting it to the approval of the Cabinet.

We have already established the Budget Office of the Parliament, alongside an independent agency tasked with providing impartial reports to the Parliament. Both entities operate within the framework of these two laws.

Additionally, we are proposing the enactment of the Economic Transformation Law, aiming to transition our economy towards a new economy centered on exports. This legislation incorporates the terms agreed upon with the IMF and other countries into law. I urge all parties to support the adoption of this law, as the future prosperity of our country hinges upon it.

Today, there is a critical need to allocate a huge fund to boost our healthcare sector. The elderly population has increased and we have to do a vital to combat malnutrition. So it is urgent to make a rapid economic development.

Our government was formed through collaboration across various political parties, united in our mission to rebuild our country. Today, we have achieved that goal. Now, we are poised to introduce three key laws essential for propelling our country forward, with a debate scheduled for June. I believe consensus will be reached on these laws, as no viable alternatives have been proposed. Therefore, I request everyone to embrace these new laws and advance our country’s development agenda.

Furthermore, significant investment is required for education and healthcare, which can only be sustained through the implementation of this new economic framework. Hence, I implore all of you to lend your support to this program.

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