Debt Cause for Concern – President
By Paneetha Ameresekere
A significant issue in Sri Lanka’s current economic context is the ”extremely high debt burden we are faced with,” President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said on Tuesday (1).
Speaking at the inauguration of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce Economic Summit, which is being held virtually, due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, he said that the large volume of pending debt repayments is a matter of concern.
“Our overreliance on loans must come to an end. That is why the focus of the Government is on fostering investments. We must attract more foreign direct Investments and encourage more local investment to drive our economic growth,” the President said. With this in view, the Government is bringing in new laws to fully protect investments. “We are also committed to enhancing the ease of doing business so that returns on investment can be generated faster,” he said.
“Our closest friend and partner India is in the process of setting up a digital unified single window clearance system so that access to regulators, policymakers and facilitators will all be available at one point for investors.
Such mechanisms improve the speed and ease of doing business. They also enhance transparency and reduce corruption,” the President said. Speaking further, he said that the agriculture, fisheries and poultry sectors will be exempted from income tax for the next five years. The private sector must introduce new technologies that enable farmers to produce more and to target lucrative new export markets.
Tax concessions will be granted for strategic investments larger than US$ 10 million in value for agricultural product processing, IT, dairy, fabric, tourism and export industries. Exports are being strongly encouraged through the removal of import taxes on required raw materials, machinery, and equipment used by direct and indirect exporters.
Fostering the creation of a ‘Technology Based Society’ that improves services available to citizens whilst enabling our industries to compete globally is a key pillar of the Vision I articulated before my election as President.