The main Opposition, Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) unveiled its enhanced economic blueprint for a Sri Lanka with good governance and inclusive prosperity.
Addressing a gathering of diplomats and members of the business community, Opposition Leader, Sajith Premadasa, said the country is currently trapped in a stagnant mud pool, and the SJB is the only party that offers a workable solution to alleviate the sufferings of its 22 million citizens.
“This is not a time for experiments, the world presents us with many examples of tried and tested models, and it is evident we cannot thrive in a closed and controlled economic model.
“We will maintain a welfare state because we care about our citizens, but it will be a carefully balanced approach and ensure that our national policies address every concern,” said Premadasa.
The SJB Leader said that Sri Lanka is experiencing a wind of change and it is imperative that realities are considered and captured in a comprehensive plan to tackle the national issue.
The country must not be held hostage by traditional, archaic and colloquial thinking, and stressed the SJB is ready to carry out necessary reforms to achieve this end. Sri Lanka’s crisis is not just an economic concern, but is also a question of governance,” Premadasa said.
Addressing the forum, SJB MP, Dr. Harsha De Silva, once again underscored the need to build bridges with the rest of the world and the need to draw investment and enhance entrepreneurship at all levels.
The party espouses a model that encourages investment and economic activity at all levels, rather than follow a ‘trickle down’ method, and touches on the need to fast-track the formulation of a policy environment that can afford SMEs and entrepreneurs access to finance and global markets.
“We have to work to eradicate poverty. Over the past two decades, most developing countries have graduated millions of their citizens from poverty to middle income segments. In Sri Lanka, millions have fallen into poverty over the past three years.
“We need to enhance productivity and create wealth, we need to be humane with our approach and ensure that our citizens are looked after. There must be equal opportunity and equitable distribution of wealth. We cannot have a programme and policy that ignores the sufferings of our people,” De Silva said.
MP Eran Wickremaratne also touched on reforms and said the SJB is committed to implement necessary reforms, adding that a concerted effort will be made to recover stolen funds and resources. Wickremaratne stated the corruption must be stopped if Sri Lanka is to develop, and the country must open its borders.
“Our potential cannot be tapped if we don’t attract foreign investment. Some parties say that foreign investment will not be welcome in the energy sector. What kind of crap is that? We are never going to be able to develop with that kind of thinking. We have to open up, and we can ensure security through laws and ensure our needs are met.
“We need to be a clean and reliable country that both local and foreign investors can have confidence in, with centralised agreements. There should be a Board of Investment for local investors too, not just foreign investors.”