Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe said that the former President Mahinda Rajapaksa has stated that he will reduce taxes by 20% after regaining power and he must reveal how proposes to do that. He said this at a ceremony held on last Friday (8) to open Ranwala-Aswatta bridge.
The Prime Minister said that the former President, during his tenure, increased the country’s debts to Rs.7391 billion. He further said that the former President has created a record through tripling the country’s debts. The former President inconsiderately took loans but the citizens have to experience the consequences, he added.
Today we have been able to connect Ranwala and Aswatta areas. Although two foundation stones had been laid before there weren’t sufficient funds. But because of Harshana Rajakaruna’s efforts, today we have been able to open this new bridge. We have to be thankful for it. Because of the new bridge, transportation between the two areas will be enhanced. Affairs, businesses and employment will also be improved and therefore I view this opening as a huge service.
When the government came to power, some believed it would be impossible to do these things. But today, we are improving the country’s economy, the Prime Minister added.
“Recently I saw that the former President Mahinda Rajapaksa had stated that people are in a difficult situation because the government is stubbornly imposing taxes on them. He had said that he will reduce taxes by 20% if he regains power. I would like to ask him how he is going to do that. In 2005, when we celebrated 58th year of independence, Sri Lanka’s total debt was Rs.222 billion. Thereafter Mahinda Rajapaksa came to power. When the Good Governance government came to power in 2015, Sri Lanka’s total debt had increased to Rs.7391 billion. Therefore the record of tripling the country’s debts belongs to Mahinda Rajapaksa. During his tenure alone Sri Lanka’s debts have increased by Rs.4164 billion. As Minister Kabeer Hashim mentioned, when we came to power, the government did not have adequate money event to pay a bill.”
The Prime Minister further said the government did not have sufficient income to pay the interests of loans in 2013 and 2014. He said that the government has to pay an enormous amount of money for loans in 2017, 2018 and 2019 and therefore until 2023, more taxes will be imposed.
He further said that the government is working to increase foreign investments.
“I would be correct to say that this country and its citizens are paying for Mahinda Rajapaksa’s sins. Bank interests and increased taxes are a result of it. They are accusing us of increasing taxes. But we had to do so to pay immense debts taken by Mahinda Rajapaksa.”
“I have a question for Mahinda Rajapaksa. When you reduce 20% of government revenue, will you again take foreign loans, or will you stop development projects, answer us please. Your government failed to construct the Ranwala bridge and failed to repay debts. But our government is repaying debts and still finished the Ranawala bridge. Are you intending to pay off debts by 2023, or continue paying until 2030, I hope he will answer my question.”
The Prime Minister further said he believes that people may also like to know how he will reduce 20% of taxes when there’s a huge amount of debts.”