By: Staff Writer
Colombo (LNW): The Government has anticipated economic growth of 1.8 percent for the year 2024 with the finance ministry’s commitment to fostering a robust economy during this period. State Minister of Finance, Shehan Semasinghe said
Addressing a press briefing at the Presidential Media Centre (PMC) on Tuesday (Nov.14), the lawmaker has emphasized that the ministry has given priority to the advancement of small and medium enterprises as part of this overarching objective.
The state minister further highlighted that the recently announced budget for the upcoming year places particular emphasis on addressing the needs of government employees, and impoverished and economically vulnerable families.
Additionally, a special focus has been directed towards uplifting small and medium enterprises.
Semasinghe also provided insights during the discussion, noting that the budget unveiled for the fiscal year 2023, following President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s appointment as the Minister of Finance, stands as one of the most formidable budgets in the nation’s history.
“Faced with the daunting backdrop of a severe economic recession prevailing up to 2022, the circumstances for presenting a budget in 2023 were notably challenging.
“Nevertheless, under the leadership of President Ranil Wickremesinghe, the government rose to the occasion and accepted this formidable challenge.
Building upon the stability achieved, the Government is now successfully implementing the government program for the year 2024, propelling towards the envisioned economic objectives.
“Presently, the government’s focus lies on meeting the primary requisites of state revenue amounting to Rs. 4,127 billion, managing state expenditures totaling Rs. 6,978 billion, and addressing a budget deficit of Rs. 2,851 billion.
“Aligned with the objectives outlined in this year’s budget, the government is diligently pursuing key targets as elucidated in the domestic debt optimization program.
The 2024 budget is crafted with a strategic focus on alleviating the debt burden, aiming to reduce it from 128% to 95%.
Concurrently, efforts are directed towards diminishing the financial requirement from 34.6% to 13% and curtailing foreign debt servicing from the current 9.4% to 4.5%.
“In response to the prevailing economic challenges, the government’s approach involves providing essential stimulus to reinvigorate the economy.
This involves targeted measures in areas that have garnered attention and commentary from various stakeholders over the past few months.
The commitment lies in addressing the economic crisis by proactively responding to identified concerns and fostering sustainable economic recovery.
“An integral focus to the priorities has been the domestic debt optimization, recognizing its pivotal role in achieving sustainable credit practices.
The successful conclusion of the domestic debt optimization program has laid the groundwork for the on-going efforts in bilateral foreign debt restructuring.
As we navigate this process, we hold the expectation that these strategic initiatives will pave the way for securing the second instalment from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).