President and UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe is seen on a giant screen delivering his address virtually at the party’s May Day event at Sugathadasa Indoor Stadium
Stresses both parties share same goal of building an open economy
Signals need to break away from the old political system and embrace change
Cautions on focussing on short-term politics but think about collectively making Sri Lanka a developed country by 2048
Says political parties must not repeat mistake of making false promises to win support for today and tomorrow
Expresses determination to pursue new economic model which is competitive, sustainable, inclusive and just for all communities
Calls for new constitution that reflects shared values and aspirations
President and UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday extended a direct invitation to the main Opposition Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) to join and form a government.
“During the last election, some MPs from the SJB chose to abstain from voting. We all share the same goal of building an open economy. Therefore, let us unite and work together by forming a parliament and a government,” Wickremesinghe told the UNP’s May Day rally.
Speaking via Zoom at the UNP’s rally at Sugathadasa Indoor Stadium, the President urged his supporters to work together towards building a new, competitive, and sustainable economy that is inclusive and just for all communities in Sri Lanka.
“Let us work together towards building a new, competitive, and sustainable economy that is inclusive and just for all communities in Sri Lanka. As we strive towards this common goal, we must also move forward with a new constitution that reflects our shared values and aspirations. I call on everyone to join hands and build a better future for our beloved country,” Wickremesinghe said.
Earlier on in his speech, Wickremesinghe stressed that he is determined to pursue a new economic model that will elevate Sri Lanka›s economy to new heights and foster continued growth and prosperity for citizens.
The President said the next step is to execute the $ 3 billion worth four-year IMF agreement and put in place the necessary rules and regulations to restore the country›s economy to a stable state by 2024.
“However, I am not content with just returning to the status quo. It is imperative that we move beyond our current economic system and establish an economy that can achieve a rapid GDP growth rate of 6% – 7% annually,” Wickremesinghe said.
He reiterated that as Sri Lanka approaches the centenary of independence in 2048, the goal should be to become a country with a developed economy, just like India aims to achieve in 2047 and China in 2049.
“Let 2048 be the year of development for Sri Lanka. We are not only building this economy for the present generation but also for the youth and children of the future. Our economy should be highly competitive, open, and based on social justice. It should incorporate a green and digital economy, as well as a competitive export market. We are making efforts to reach that stage, and we seek the support of everyone to make it a reality,” the President said.
“Do not focus on short-term politics; instead, let us think about the future, specifically 2048, and work towards making Sri Lanka a developed country. We must not repeat the mistake of making false promises to win support for today and tomorrow,” Wickremesinghe emphasised.
“Instead, we must adopt a new path towards a competitive, open, green, and digital economy that is socially just, especially focused on the export market, and built for the benefit of today›s youth and children. To achieve this goal, we must break away from the old political system and embrace change. As members of the United National Party, we must become a party of the future, thinking anew and striving to transform Sri Lanka. This is my appeal to all of you,” Wickremesinghe said at the UNP May Day event.
His speech recounted some of the work done by the UNP and himself in the past. “Prior to assuming the presidency, I reflected on one thing: the United National Party prioritised the welfare of the country. The United National Party is a political party that is close to my heart. In fact, in the United National Party’s 2020 election manifesto, we explicitly stated our intention to seek assistance from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, with a goal of securing $7 billion. As a party, we were the only ones who mentioned these critical points. On the other hand, other parties made empty promises they could not fulfil despite knowing the existence of the country’s economic problem,” Wickremesinghe said.
He said that after honestly sharing UKIP›s policies, the party ended up in the national list. “Our policy is to be transparent with the people, even if it means conveying unpleasant truths. We announced our goals for 2020 and 2021 without hesitation,” he said.
Wickremesinghe recalled that as the economic crisis deepened in 2022, he met with the former President, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, and recommended that he seek assistance from the International Monetary Fund.
“During the discussions on this matter, the former President summoned a meeting of the party leaders in parliament. While other opposition groups refused to attend, I, along with the Tamil National Alliance, actively participated in the discussions,” he added.
In his speech Wickremesinghe also said the following. My motivation was not rooted in politics, but in properly managing the country’s economy and alleviating the burdens on its citizens. For this reason, I took on the role of the presidency, as I had faith in my ability to revive the economy and work alongside supportive ministers to achieve these outcomes.
My self-assuredness stemmed from my previous experience in successfully rebuilding the Country’s economy after the Government’s collapse in 2001. During that time, I not only managed to revive the economy but also strengthened it. Similarly, in 2015, when the country’s economy faced a setback, I saw an opportunity to bolster it and achieve a primary budget surplus.
With this confidence in mind, I accepted the responsibility to face the current economic crisis head-on. By now, we have been able to stabilise the country’s economy and establish a sense of political stability. The parliament is functioning smoothly, and many individuals are working within the frameworks of democracy and law. I would like to extend my heartfelt
appreciation to the ministers, MPs, political parties, organisations, and, most of all, the United National Party who have supported me throughout this process.