President to create a debt-free country | Sunday Observer

President to create a debt-free country

26 March, 2023
President Ranil Wickremesinghe participated in a  ceremony at the BMICH to appreciate craftsmen. Here the President inspects one of the products.  Pic: Wasitha Patabendige
President Ranil Wickremesinghe participated in a ceremony at the BMICH to appreciate craftsmen. Here the President inspects one of the products. Pic: Wasitha Patabendige

The International Monetary Fund’s Extended Fund Facility was approved at its Board of Directors meeting on Monday night.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe stayed in the President’s office with the two State Finance Ministers and other Finance Ministry officials until the decision was received. President’s Chief of Staff Sagala Ratnayaka and President’s Secretary Saman Ekanayake stayed there to support the group.

The IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva had sent a message to the Chief of Staff that the US$ 2.9 billion credit facility offered for the stabilisation of the economy would be submitted to the board of directors for approval and that the board of directors has a high chance of approving it.

President Wickremesinghe was very happy on Monday, March 20. The reason for that was because they had received confirmation that the loan facility from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which the Opposition said would be delayed, would be approved.

The President summoned Chief of Staff Sagala Ratnayaka, Secretary Saman Ekanayake and Director General of Government Information Dinith Chinthaka Karunaratne, Director General of Presidential Media Dhanushka Ramanayake to his office and informed that he will make a special statement in Parliament on Wednesday. Then Dinith and Dhanushka requested the President to make a brief statement on behalf of the people on Tuesday before the parliamentary announcement following the approval of the IMF loan facility.

The President informed them that the brief statement will be made on Tuesday. The President also presented the message of approval of the IMF loan facility at the Cabinet meeting that evening.

Table thumping

The Ministers expressed their happiness by thumping on the table.

“We have visited the IMF 16 times. This is the 17th time. We have to move forward with the 25-year plan to create a debt-free state,” the President said.

The President met the Parliamentary Group and informed them to give the positive information about the loan facility from the IMF to the people. He also advised the MPs to prepare for a debate as the Opposition may ask for a debate after he makes a statement about this in the Parliament.

That night the Board of Directors of the International Monetary Fund approved the extended credit facility and the President immediately informed Treasury Secretary Mahinda Siriwardena and the Governor of the Central Bank to sign the documents and send them to the IMF that same night.

Although it was night in this country, it was morning in New York City, and the documents were prepared so that the first instalment could be given the next day with the forwarding of the documents.


The next day, the President thanked everyone and said that Sri Lanka is no longer a bankrupt state. President Wickremesinghe then prepared the statement to be presented to Parliament the next day. The statement prepared by President’s Adviser Saman Athaudahetti was sent to the President. He checked it and added amendments and submitted it to President’s Secretary Saman Ekanayake to add further amendments.

Saman Ekanayake added an amendment to it and showed it to the President before sending it back for revision because the President asked what it was. “Ah, this is good. Everyone has put their hands on the mal wattiya,” the President said.

“Yes, Sir, when we do something good, everyone joins us. It is part of Sri Lankan culture,” the President’s Secretary replied.

That evening, the United National Party (UNP) Management Board met under the patronage of the President. Everyone present thanked the President because he arranged to get the IMF loan facility very quickly.

Party Executive Director Shamal Senarath pointed to Sagala Ratnayaka and said that he also worked hard for this. Thanking him, Sagala said, “Yes, he worked hard for a long time. My hair finally went away.” When he said that, everyone laughed.

The President gratefully recalled Mahinda Samarasinghe and Dr. Palitha Kohona who supported this work by personally contacting the International Monetary Fund and the US Treasury Secretary.

May Day

He said that Finance Ministry Secretary Mahinda Siriwardena also prepared bundles of reports. The UNP Management Board discussed May Day activities and the program which will be presented to the President soon.

The President assigned his Chief of Staff Sagala Ratnayaka and Secretary Saman Ekanayake to inform the heads of the public sector about how to proceed according to the IMF agreement.

He went to Parliament the next day to deliver his speech. After Chief Government Whip Minister Prasanna Ranatunga arrived, the President reminded him of a certain matter. “Today, the Opposition is asking for a debate on my statement. Give it today. What should be passed by the Government today? the President asked Prasanna. “Sir, nothing big, there are only a few Regulations and an Act,” Minister Prasanna replied.

“Ah then pass it first and give them the debate,” the President told Prasanna. Following the President’s statement about the IMF proposals, the Opposition demanded the debate as the President said before. With the concurrence of the Government, the debate started on the same day and continued for three days.

Good speech

When the President made his announcement and stepped towards the ruling party lobby, the MPs surrounded him. The common story told by everyone who surrounded him was that he gave a good speech.

“It is right that the President told everyone to forget the past and come together. No matter what they say, these people will not come together. They are greedy for power,” when State Minister Chamara Sampath said this, the President smiled and moved towards the Opposition lobby.

“There, I gave the agreement as requested and the debate was also given,” the President said with a smile.

An Opposition MP asked for a copy of the agreement and the President told his Parliamentary Affairs Adviser Prof. Ashu Marasinghe to print copies and give them to the MPs.

When an Opposition member said, “If the agreement was given in advance, many problems would not have arisen.” The President said that the IMF requested not to release the agreement until the loan was approved.

“Now everything is fine. Now you have to support me. The Leader of the Opposition is also here,” the President said looking at Sajith Premadasa.

When MP Wajira Abeywardena said, “The people of the Opposition were expecting that there would not be an IMF loan in March,” Minister Prasanna said that the behaviour of the Chairman of the Public Utilities Commission regarding the electricity tariff hike also led to the delay in receiving the IMF loan until March.

The President spent a lot of time in the Opposition lobby cracking jokes.

Television channel

When he arrived at the President’s office in Parliament, MP Madhura Withanage told the President that the work of the Privileges Committee regarding a private television channel was over.

MP Premanath C. Dolawatta said what they have done is an act that incites racism.

The President told them that if there has been a breach of privilege, it should be resolved in Parliament. He said that he will not interfere in it. He then left saying that he had some other work to attend to.

President Wickremesinghe who came to the Presidential Secretariat, joined the 106th anniversary of the Sri Lanka Girl Guides Association and they also presented a Scout flag to the President.

A discussion regarding the State Vesak festival and the Vesak zone of Hunupitiya Gangarama were held on the instructions of the President under the leadership of the President’s Chief of Staff and the President’s Secretary.

In the evening, the President joined the D.S. Senanayake commemoration ceremony and gave an explanation regarding the debt-free country that existed then and the indebted country that exists today.

On Thursday morning, the President went to Sanghamitta Girls School, Borella to join the national ceremony of distributing school uniform material. There, President Wickremesinghe said if sabotage continues, he will bring a Bill to Parliament to include schools in essential services. After that, he participated in the ceremony at the BMICH to appreciate craftsmen and then came directly to the Ministry of Finance. It was his first visit to the Finance Ministry after the approval of the IMF credit facility.

The President discussed the financial and economic situation of the country at length and advised them to plan future activities according to the IMF agreement.

Ths Finance Ministry Secretary said that the first instalment of the IMF loan has already been received by the Treasury.

Following the approval of the IMF credit facility, the President held a discussion with the heads of all media organisations at the Presidential Secretariat requesting their support for the development program to be carried out in the country.

The heads of all media organisations participated in it and they presented many issues to the President such as debt restructuring of the country. The President as well as Treasury Secretary Mahinda Siriwardena, Central Bank Governor Dr. Nandalal Weerasinghe and Minister Bandula Gunawardena answered the questions of the media leaders.


With the release of a gazette notice to conduct law education in English, the law students were subjected to great injustice. The concerned students and various sections on several occasions informed Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa regarding that. Sajith came to Parliament with all those facts and raised the issue in Parliament in the morning.

At the same time, uproar was created in the House and the Opposition leader demanded that a vote be taken on this immediately. Many people approved the request and 113 votes were received against the gazette notification and only one vote was received in favour of it.

The most significant fact witnessed here was that all those in the ruling party also voted in favour of the Opposition Leader’s proposal.

The next day, the President made a statement in Parliament about the loan received from the IMF. However, Dr. Harsha de Silva said that President Ranil Wickremesinghe has not submitted the agreement letter sent by the IMF, to Parliament in the debate related to the International Monetary Fund.

He pointed out that the letter should be submitted to the Parliament immediately, without it there is no point in debating it. After the President’s statement, it was Opposition Leader Sajith who demanded a debate on the agreement.

At the same time, Minister Susil Premajayanta said that he was ready to give a debate.

When Sajith said, “Yes, let’s start the debate now. Let’s finish it today.” ruling party members looked at each other.

The Government believed that Sajith did not know anything about this agreement. But by that time, Sajith had all the documents related to the agreement.

The ruling party could not even imagine how the relevant agreement got into the hands of Sajith and throughout the debate the Government was unable to answer the accusations levelled by the members of the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB).

False report

Some media had recently reported that MP Imthiaz Bakeer Markar is estranged from the Samagi Jana Balawegaya. But he too attended the SJB Parliamentary Group meeting, proving that it was just a completely false media report. Rajitha Senaratne was also present. Markar also presented his views on the regulations to be brought for the law examination.

The meeting of the SJB Parliamentary Group was held under the patronage of Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa.

“This repressive program carried out by the Government should be stopped. Elections are not going to be held. The judiciary is not allowed to act independently. This is serious repression,” SJB General Secretary Ranjith Madduma Bandara said at the meeting.

MP Kavinda Jayawardena said,”Let’s make this known internationally. Let’s call the Ambassadors and explain the situation.”

It was entrusted to Luxman Fonseka to provide the related facilities. He agreed to that and reserved a leading hotel in Colombo for that purpose. Representatives including Ambassadors representing 12 countries were present and a tea party was also held before the discussion started. Sajith approached all the Ambassadors and had a friendly conversation with them.

Following which, the discussion started with the primary objective of clarifying the facts about the situation in Sri Lanka. In particular, matters such as consolidating democracy in Sri Lanka, protecting the Constitution and conducting Local Government elections were discussed at length.

The Leader of the Opposition asked the Ambassadors to continue providing the international support needed to rebuild Sri Lanka. This is considered to be the first time that many diplomatic officials participated in a discussion called by the Opposition.

Meanwhile, a meeting took place between the Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa and Prof. G. G.L. Peiris at the Opposition Leader’s office in Parliament recently.

“The Government is putting serious pressure on the judiciary. We need to go for a joint program in this regard and defeat this situation,” Prof. Peiris told Opposition Leader Sajith.

“We also discussed this. We will influence the Government in several stages,” Sajith replied. Accordingly, all the parties of the Opposition reached a consensus against the process of the Government against the independence of the judiciary.

The process of signing a joint statement started in Parliament.

President’s Counsel Thisath Wijegunawardena was assigned the responsibility of involving the representatives of the Opposition. It was Lakshman Kiriella who spoke to Anura Dissanayake about the objectives of the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP).

Prof. Tissa Vitharana was the first to sign the document. He left after signing and then the Party Leaders representing the Opposition signed it.