New Finance and Mass Media Minister Mangala Samaraweera setting in his new role pledged maximum effort for the economic development of the country through much needed economic reforms.
Addressing the parliament for the first time as the Finance Minister, Mr. Samaraweera said he accepted this portfolio at a time when a strong foundation has been laid down by his predecessor, current Foreign Minister Ravi Karunanayake, to develop the economy that was faced with a heavy debt burden.
“I had doubts when I accepted this portfolio. I was wondering whether the shoes were too big for my feet. Many illustrious political leaders and statesmen of the past like Ronnie de Mel, N. M. Perera, and J. R. Jayewardene walked in these shoes.”
“But I hope to obtain the expertise of both government and private sector leaders to do my best to bring reforms suitable for the new century and bring the economic development the country needs,” he said.
“I have accepted this portfolio at a time when a strong foundation has been laid down to develop the economy faced with a heavy debt burden. I am grateful to Minister Ravi Karunanayake, who laid down that strong foundation from 2015.”
“When I saw the recent Meethotamulla disaster, I thought that disaster symbolized the country we accepted on January 08, 2015,” Mr. Samaraweera said.
“On one side there is a heap of dead bodies of journalists, of children who had asked for drinking water and others. The country was internationally isolated. The UN had been forced by the rest of members of the international community to commence an investigation against us without asking for our consent. On the other hand there was a massive debt mountain we had to contend with to the tune of 8,503 billion dollars. There had been no fiscal discipline and the Treasury was empty because of the cronies’ economy. We have already faced this debt burden successfully and been able to put the country’s economy on the right track again.”
“Our fishermen lost the opportunity to sell their products to Europe. But our government managed to get the GSP+ back before completion of two years,” the new Finance Minister pointed out.
“The former President had to hide in a van carrying bread to reach a foreign airport to avoid protesters. Today our leaders can go anywhere in the world. The president and the prime minister are invited by other nations. We eliminated the odor the country had from the heap of dead bodies.”
“Last march 48 other nations voted for us to secure GSP Plus. They stood by Sri Lanka when extremists in European Parliament brought resolutions against granting GSP+.”