President Ranil Wickremesinghe said that the country has had to face adverse repercussions today due to the short sighted popular decisions taken in the past and unpopular decisions have had to be taken for the future prospects of the country.

The President made this observation yesterday (08) taking part in the Third Reading debate of the Budget proposals for the financial year 2023. He said further that a Parliamentary Select Committee will be established on a resolution by the Parliament to look into those who led the economy to bankruptcy with their incorrect fiscal policies.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe further said; “Some members discussed the Mahaweli lands. The lands of the state were under the Land Commissioner until 1977. Due to the rapid development, some of the urban and rural lands were brought under the Urban Development Authority, Mahaweli Authority, and several other corporations. But now, no one knows as to where those lands are or what they are doing with them.

“Hence, the Government is concerned to find out as to where the Government lands are, and to whom they have been given. Although this is done through the Divisional Secretary, he cannot issue lands as he wishes and a committee will be appointed in this connection. The government hopes to cancel all those grants of lands. Some spoke against taking over Mahaweli lands but they were all under the Land Commissioner earlier. By now people have been settled in most of the lands under those institutions. But the rest have not been handed over to the Land Ministry by the Agriculture Ministry. Some institutions are still in the process of settling the people in those lands. We don’t have any issue with them. They can continue to develop them and settle people in them.

“However the Government owned lands in Mahaweli B, C and H zones and lands in Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa should be identified and made available for the public to use. Although agriculture is developed by both Mahaweli Authority and Agriculture Ministry, so far we have not been able to exceed the harvest above 6 Mt of paddy per hectare. That is the government’s concern and nobody needs to worry about this Government’s move. In addition, in accordance with the Education Minister’s request, we agreed to establish nongovernmental universities. Hence when we meet on 12 and 13, let’s discuss this matter with the former education ministers and other MPs and let’s reach a decision by next January. Thereafter we can establish those universities. I would like to request the Speaker, as if we discussed earlier to appoint five youth to each Ministerial Consultative Committee, we can soon finalise the criteria of selecting them without delay. If we delayed it, the youth would inquire as to what has happened to it.

“After the discussions with China, we can go to the next step if we handle the economy somehow or other now with difficulty. If we can’t show the profits in such a situation we also suffer losses, nobody outside would aid us. The Prime Minister and I discussed this matter and we have to make decisions which are not popular for the sake of the country. The other countries at a time made those decisions not popular but were beneficial to their countries. We have not increased the electricity bills since 2013 and all of us are responsible for the loss. Now what are we going to do? If you have a deficit of Rs. 400 billion, what are you going to do? There are only 03 options: print money, put on VAT or charge directly.

Another matter is the Banks’ issue. If the people do not settle loans, the banks will have to auction their property. But the issue is that the people too have no money to buy such property. Therefore, we are discussing with the IMF to solve these issues. I think we all have to get together and think how this financial sector is to be lifted. We can blame each other. I can say I am not responsible. But the fact is that we can’t have the banks collapsing. So we have to go back to banking. That’s why; I want the Banking Oversight Committee”.

Responding to a query made by parliamentarians as to who drove the country to such a bankruptcy and what is the punishment for them , President Ranil Wickremesinghe said that a Parliamentary Select Committee will be established on a resolution by the Parliament to look into it.