The All Party Conference called by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to resolve the prevailing economic crisis got underway at the President’s House this morning.
Party leaders including President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, former President Maithripala Sirisena, Leader of the United National Party former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and Leader of the Tamil National Alliance Parliamentarian R Sampanthan attended the conference.
The President’s Media Division said representatives of several political parties including Lanka Sama Samaja Party Parliamentarian Professor Tissa Vitarana and Our Power of People Party Parliamentarian Ven. Athuraliye Rathana Thera also attended the conference.
However the Samagi Jana Balawegaya, National People’s Power, Tamil Progressive Alliance, Sri Lanka Muslim Congress and All Ceylon Makkal Congress decided to boycott the conference.
Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka Ajith Nivard Cabraal claims the Central Bank is considering all possible options to face the prevailing challenges.
Addressing the All Party Conference, Governor Cabraal said the CBSL will look into introducing new policies and changing existing policies as required.
He said, as the government’s economic and financial adviser, the CBSL requested the government at the beginning of March to consider eight broad procedures promptly as a step in the joint efforts taken by the government and the CBSL.
Providing a brief clarification of the assistance sought from the IMF, the CBSL Governor said considering the depleting foreign reserves at present the country is facing difficulties in paying off upcoming debt and service charge payments.
He said considerable foreign funds will be required in the near future in order to maintain complete economic and financial stability.
Governor Cabraal added therefore the government has reached a decision to obtain assistance from the IMF and to restructure debt.
Furthermore, commenting on conditions that may be imposed when seeking IMF assistance, Cabraal said the opposition and many experts believe the trust and confidence of investors will improve when obtaining assistance from the IMF while non-loan investments will also flow to the economy.
He claimed however the IMF’s policies will be strict in future.
Cabraal said Sri Lanka’s economy is at a crucial point adding all decisions reached within the next few weeks and months will have a major impact on the future of the nation.
The CBSL Governor called on all parties to work together irrespective of alliances to overcome the economic crisis and stabilise the economy.
He said instead of working towards temporary political advantages everyone must strive to strengthen the economy within a short period of time.
Former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva asked him to attend the All Party Conference which was called by the President on the request of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party, as it is important.
The former Premier added he also saw a statement made by former President Maithripala Sirisena recently regarding the All Party Conference.
Former Prime Minister Wickremesinghe said he attended the conference to resolve the prevailing crisis in the country and not to claim who is responsible for politics within the party, as claimed by Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka Ajith Nivard Cabraal, based on a narrow political agenda.
The former Premier said it is regretful that the Central Bank Governor commenced the conference by claiming the former good governance government is responsible for the present crisis.
Former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said the former administration followed a different policy and the people were able to purchase essential goods including food and fuel.
The UNP Leader further said he did not attend the All Party Conference with the intention of defeating the faction within the opposition that did not attend the conference.
The former Prime Minister added he attended the conference to express his views and involve them in the discussion and called for the prevailing issues to be discussed regardless of politics.
Speaking during the conference President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said the All Party Conference was not called to lay blame on any individual adding several setbacks of the former administrations for the past 74 years led to the present situation.
The Head of State said the All Party Conference was called to find solutions to the prevailing issues adding it is not a political matter.
President Rajapaksa reiterated the conference was called to obtain views from all factions to find solutions.
Addressing the All Party Conference Chairman of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party, former President Maithripala Sirisena said failure to declare the present situation a dire economic, sociological and political crisis, is not a wise decision.
The former President said the All Party Conference was called under the present circumstances in order to resolve the prevailing crisis.
Former President Sirisena said majority of proposals tabled by the SLFP are short-term proposals adding the party hopes to present the mid-term and long-term solutions based on the merits of the short-term proposals.
The former President highlighted the need for a broad discussion on the government’s actions to resolve the crisis and how the public can provide their assistance.
Former President Sirisena said the failure of former Governors of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, economic advisors, monetary boards and officials of the Ministry of Finance to identify accurate facts of the financial crisis is concerning.
The former President said therefore discussions must be held with the assistance of experts in the field, within the next six months to two years, while plans must be formulated accordingly