The United National Party (UNP) today urged the government to act in a transparent and a responsible manner when dealing with public finances.
In a statement, the UNP said the party is concerned by the lack of transparency on the part of the government regarding the country’s public finances.
“The delay in releasing the 2nd quarter and 3rd quarter economic figures will have an adverse impact on the country’s credit ratings.
The Government has already overseen the country’s credit rating downgraded twice this past year. If the Government continues to refuse to release the necessary economic indicators for the 2nd and 3rd quarters, the international credit rating agencies will be forced to estimate based on external figures.
We urge the Government to act in a responsible manner when dealing with the country’s public finances, and not betray the trust placed in them by the public,” it said.
The statement further said, “The UNP has raised several concerns regarding the national budget presented to Parliament by the Prime Minister in his capacity as Minister of Finance.
The over reliance on borrowing without a clear plan to raise revenue to meet the existing debt obligations has placed the country on a dangerous path of possibly defaulting on due payments.
The Government of Sri Lanka was able to meet the necessary debt repayments for 2020 due to the foreign exchange raised and consolidated by the UNP government.
Prior to President Rajapaksa taking over the Government in November 2019, the country’s foreign reserves stood at US $7.6 billion (Rs. 1.4 trillion). This allowed the Treasury officials to meet the debt requirements for this year.
However, Sri Lanka has further debt repayments amounting to Rs. 960 billion (US $5.2 billion) next year. The Government’s budget for 2021 has failed to indicate how they will raise the necessary revenue to meet these repayments.
The Government has embarked on an economic model of increased borrowings for 2021, without any clear plan to increase the revenue in the country.
The mismanagement of the economy by the Mahinda Rajapaksa government pre-2015 had placed Sri Lanka on the cusp of a debt crisis. The course alterations adopted by the UNP ensured that government revenue was increased. This resulted in the government achieving a primary surplus in 2017 (the first time since 1954) and enjoyed three consecutive years of primary surplus.”