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Sri Lanka needs strong new economic system, not reforms - President

Sri Lanka does not need economic reforms that offer no solutions to the ongoing crisis, but a strong new economic system that can face 2050, President Ranil Wickremesinghe says. 
Outdated economic systems cannot help rebuild Sri Lanka’s economy, the Head of State said, inaugurating the 2022 Economic Summit organized by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce.
The event themed ‘Resetting from Turmoil to Opportunity’ was held at the Shangri-La hotel in Colombo on Monday (Dec. 05).

President Wickremesinghe noted that foreign exchange is essential to recover the island nation’s economy.

He also mentioned that necessary measures have already been taken to introduce a strong new economic system.

Explaining the importance of debt restructuring in order to ride out the crisis situation, President Wickremesinghe remarked that successful talks have taken place with India in this regard.

Discussions with China on debt restructuring were delayed due to the 20th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party, he explained, adding that these talks will be expedited now that the congress has come to an end. China has no objections to restructuring Sri Lanka’s debts, he added.

He also spoke of plans to expand the Colombo Port all the way to Ja-Ela, stressing the need to make it the busiest port in South Asia.

President Wickremesinghe, speaking further, revealed that the East Terminal of Colombo Port was offered to Japan.

Sri Lanka is jointly developing the West Container Terminal (WCT) as a Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) project by India’s Adani Group, its local partner John Keells Holdings and Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) with an investment of over USD 700 million. In February this year, the previous government had decided to develop the WCT as a Public-Private Limited Company in collaboration with the SLPA and parties nominated by Indian and Japanese governments.

President Wickremesinghe also expressed confidence that it will be possible to get the assistance from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to overcome this situation and he said that the government has reached a staff-level agreement with the IMF.

President Wickremesinghe stated that Rs. 300 billion would be spent on the power sector alone next year, and that alternatives should be sought to cover that cost.

The President said that measures should be taken to introduce new alternative energies to the power sector, and the government is ready for that and plans to focus on green hydrogen energy instead of renewable energy.

Regional Vice President of the World Bank for South Asia, Martin Raiser; Chairman Ceylon Chamber of Commerce Vish Govindasamy; CEO of NITI Aayog India, Parameswaran Iyer also spoke on this occasion.

MP Eran Wickramaratne, MP Harsha De Silva and the Central Bank Governor Dr. Nandalal Weerasinghe also attended the event.