Speaker sends economic crisis proposals to PM 

BY Buddhika Samaraweera

Speaker of Parliament Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena has submitted a set of proposals to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe regarding a number of programmes that can be implemented to overcome the current economic crisis.

When contacted by The Morning yesterday (23), Abeywardena said that the series of proposals had also been referred to former Finance Minister and incumbent MP M.U.M. Ali Sabry PC. He said that in addition to the Premier, the proposals have also been referred to the relevant officials.

Accordingly, Abeywardena has suggested that demand management policies should be implemented to reduce energy costs. Under this, it has been proposed that priority be given to the provision of electricity, and that if a power interruption is required, it be implemented nationwide between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m., while also encouraging public and private sector employees to work from home. 

“In order to minimise electricity consumption, I propose to reduce the charge for basic units and to increase the charge for additional units. By doing so, those who use a lesser number of units would be given some relief, while those who use a high number of units would have to pay more. This will also help reduce the electricity consumption,” he said.

He further added that priority should be given to provide fuel for public transport and freight, adding that a ration scheme should be formulated to supply fuel to lorries, buses, container trucks, and other special vehicles transporting goods, through Sri Lanka Transport Board depots islandwide. He has also suggested that a programme be put in place to supply fuel to private vehicles according to the final digits of their number plates.

Abeywardena has also suggested that gas should be provided with priority given to people living in urban flats and those engaged in the hotel business, and that the method of distribution of gas through dealers should be revised.

He further proposed that tax concessions should be given to those who locally manufacture products such as milk powder, butter, cheese, sugar, kithul treacle and jaggery, and soap. He said that the District Secretaries and the Economic Development Officers should be entrusted to oversee the work in this regard. In addition, he pointed out that increasing home gardening and the production of commercial crops and vegetables is also very important in the current situation.

“Currently, the proposed subsidy group for receiving Samurdhi, elderly, and additional allowances are those who are already receiving some subsidy from the Government. Therefore, in addition to them, I suggest that these subsidies be given to sub-families living in these households, as well as to families who have not received Samurdhi for various reasons,” the proposals further read.

Noting that the Government’s failure to repay foreign loans has had a major impact on the local banking system, the Speaker said that it is important to take prompt decisions through regular discussions between the heads of banks and the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) and to take necessary steps to dispel any misconceptions among the people.

Speaker Abeywardena has also proposed a number of benefits that could be given for those who deposit a sum of $ 100,000 as a fixed deposit (FD) for a period of two years in Sri Lanka. He has proposed to pay an interest of 10% per annum on those deposits, which could be paid in Sri Lankan rupees. In addition, he has proposed to issue a vehicle import licence worth $ 25,000 after six months to the person making such a fixed deposit. Abeywardena has stated that if there is an increase in the above deposits, the corresponding facilities provided to them should be multiplied by the same amount. In addition, he has stated that all depositors who respond to this request should be treated as honorary citizens, and that a special counter should be opened at the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) in Katunayake on their arrival in Sri Lanka to allow entry and exit without any hindrance.