Govt aims for strong, debt-free nation | Sunday Observer
President tells gathering in Anuradhapura:

Govt aims for strong, debt-free nation

29 January, 2023

The Government will take this economy to positive growth from 2024 and is creating a strong country that does not bow down to anyone and is debt-free, as in the Anuradhapura period, President Ranil Wickremesinghe said yesterday.

If the economic and agricultural program implemented by the Government and the debt restructuring program being carried out with the donor countries as per the International Monetary Fund (IMF) program is disrupted in any way, no one can prevent the country from falling into a crisis again similar to May and June last year, President Wickremesinghe told a gathering in Anuradhapura.

The President was speaking after presenting the Aktha Pathra (Credentials) to the new Atamasthanadhipathi, the Chief Sangha Nayaka of the Siam Maha Nikaya, Malwathu Chapter, Kandy Kalaviya, Most Ven. Dr. Pallegama Hemarathana Nayaka Thera at the Jayasrimaha Bodhi premises.

“The growth rate of the economy in 2022 was -11 percent. It could be -3.5 or -4.0 percent this year.

We want to achieve positive growth from 2024. In 2019, around 1.6 million income tax, Value Added Tax and National Development Tax files existed. But due to the tax concessions granted in 2020, tax revenue reduced to around Rs. 400,000 by December 2021. The decrease in Government revenue due to this is the primary cause of the country’s economic crisis,” the President added.

Speaking at a separate event in Colombo earlier on Thursday, President Wickremesinghe told leaders of all political parties represented in Parliament that he as the President vested with Executive powers in the Constitution and as the Head of the Executive branch, is bound by duty to see that the laws of the Constitution are executed, and therefore, he shall enforce the 13th Amendment.

The President said that the 13th Amendment to the Constitution has been in the Constitution for about 37 years, and he must enforce it. He said: “If I were not to enforce it, then the case is that someone should bring in a 22nd Amendment and abolish the 13th Amendment.”

“Anyone can bring a Private Members Motion to abolish the 13th Amendment. What if the majority of members rejected it? Then the 13th Amendment must be put in force,” the President said.

He said there will be no room for division of the country. We live in a unitary state. I stand against federalism, but I am not against power sharing or devolution of power. “The Provincial Councils we have here do not even have the powers of the London City Council. Therefore, we cannot define this country as a federal state,” he said.

He said that the late President J. R. Jayewardene introduced many laws to prevent Sri Lanka from becoming a federal state.

He said there is no middle ground between implementation and non-implementation of the 13th Amendment. It is a matter of either getting rid of it or implementing it.

He said no one here is ready to divide this country. “I am not ready to divide this country. Most of us here are Sinhalese. We cannot betray our nation. Should we live in this world, we should live with the other communities. As the National anthem represents, we are Eka Mawakage Daruwo, or the descendents of a single mother. This is the core we must protect to move forward as a country,” he added.