Sri Lanka must win Japan’s confidence now - PM | Daily News

Sri Lanka must win Japan’s confidence now - PM

Sri Lanka needs to win back the confidence of Japan, as the country is hurt by our recent actions, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said.

He stressed that Japan’s support is important to get the country out of the current economic crisis.

“We need a few billion dollars to come from outside. Otherwise this country cannot survive. We are talking with friendly nations to get help. We have to reach out to Japan again. It had been our friend since 1952, but now hurt by what happened. Which country rejects US$ 3 billion worth of aid without a thank you and without even a negotiation? If it was our fault then we have to apologise. If the fault was theirs, we have to tell them that.

Japan had bailed us out in the past. I have to build trust with them again,” said Wickremesinghe.

Speaking at ‘Rakimu Jayathu Lanka’ event organized by the Constructive Professionals Association on Friday, the Prime Minister observed that the Sri Lankan crisis would be multiplied by the Ukraine crisis.

“We are lucky that India has come forward to help us at the hour of our need. China is assisting, but someone in the Government has negotiated a swap which we cannot use. We are looking at the West also, but those countries are spending a lot of money on the Ukraine war. Over US$ 100 billion, which could have gone elsewhere, have already gone to the Ukraine crisis,” Wickremesinghe pointed out.

“There is light at the end of the tunnel, but we have to make sure there are no earth slips while we go through the tunnel,” he remarked.

He underlined that Sri Lanka needs a priority list when utilizing foreign Credit Lines and the access to them has to be centralized. He added that the country has to look at bridging financing till the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other help come.

“Many countries will be affected by the Ukraine crisis, but the economies of those countries were normal until the Ukraine crisis began. Our case is unique. We have already started suffering. We did not go early enough to the IMF. We are losing our sources of foreign exchange. We have run down our economy. We have State enterprises owing billions of Rupees to the banks. We have projects which will not benefit our country. The worst is still to come. As the economy fails more and more jobs will be lost and more and more enterprises, big and small, will collapse. Already the construction industry is coming to a halt and the tourism industry has fallen. The time will come that people cannot eat three meals per day. We have to avoid hunger,” the Premier remarked.

The Prime Minister noted that fuel prices and corn prices were rising globally and there is a fertilizer shortage due to the Ukraine crisis. He noted that the global food crisis might continue till 2024.

“Russia is the largest producer of grain, while Ukraine is the fifth largest. Even if the war stops tomorrow, it will take three years for Ukraine to get its cultivation back on track. Already countries are banning the export of food. Two cultivation seasons had failed in our country due to non-availability of fertilizer. We are trying to get fertilizer for the next ‘Maha’ season. We have to make sure food is available in the coming months. A food security programme will commence and it will continue till 2024,” he commented.

The Prime Minister stressed that an export-oriented economy is the path for Sri Lanka for recovery in the long-run. “In the short term, our debts will further increase and if we have no programme for recovery, we will come back to the same position in another few years,” he cautioned.

He observed that an export-oriented economy has to be highly competitive and outward looking. “We need a new mindset for that. We have to get ready for a tough time. We have to change the system. The future generations will reap its benefits. Let this experience be our last experience with this bitter politics. Let us think anew,” he said.

The Prime Minister also stated that the Party Leaders of Parliament have arrived at a consensus on the proposed 21st Amendment to the Constitution and that it should be devoid of any provision that will require a Referendum.

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