Thursday, June 8, 2017

Minister Karunanayake invite the expatriate community to return home

Minister Karunanayake invite the expatriate community to return homeJun 07, 2017

"I invite them to come back as this country needs their services"
Foreign Minister Ravi Karunanayake thanked his officers and staff of the Finance Ministry who had rendered their support to him to accomplish this task. He said now he has added responsibilities both nationally and internationally. Excerpts of the interview with us.

Q:  What are your views regarding the past?
A:  The previous regime handed over a country with an bankrupt economy and scraping the bottom of the pit, so to speak. It was as if a grenade was handed to us with the pin removed. Our first task was to prevent it from exploding. Then we had to defuse the ticking time bomb and move forward. That is what we have done over the past two years. Now the gross domestic production has increased to 15%. The unofficial income sources have been turned into state income sources. There were assets that did not bring in any income such as the Mattala airport and the Hambantota harbour. In 2005 the Hambantota port was in debt of Rs. 1764 billion and by January 8, 2015 it had increased to Rs. 8900 billion. However, after taking over, we have created 43 development projects. Development is taking place throughout the country. We did not boast about what we were doing but we worked. But, the previous regime glorified their projects but nothing was done. That is the difference between them and us. Although we imposed a 4% Value Added Tax, we have reduced the price of many essential commodities and we created job opportunities. We restored an economy on the brink of collapse. I have done my best for this country. The parties leveling allegations at us are doing so out of utter jealousy.
Q:  How do you see the recent changes in the cabinet?
A:  I see the changes as positive changes. I wanted to use the best resources in different ways. On the other hand I would like to mention that I am happy that the President and Prime Minister are committed to bringing in the best for the country. However, there are unscrupulous elements that cannot bear to see the progress we are making and want to destabilise our progress. They don’t want to see anything good happening to anyone.
Q:  Some speculate that the Cabinet reshuffle is a ploy by the Joint opposition. Do you agree?
A:  It’s a waste of time listening to them. The Joint Opposition can question, but we must keep these concerns in mind when we work as a government. I choose to look at this in a positive way. There are also those who instigate trouble between us and the opposition. Hence, we must be mindful of that too, as I said earlier.
Q:  You attempted to redeem a collapsing economy and you must have had plans for the future. Now what happens to those plans as you are no longer the Finance Minister?
A:  It is because I uplifted the economy that they are slinging mud at me and branding me as a rogue. They are also upset because we stopped the corruption not just reduced it. They cannot bear to see that we are slowly but surely creating a country free of corruption and fraud. This is why they are attacking us and trying to destabilise our progress.
Q:  What is your opinion of our foreign policies?
A:  I am happy and appreciate what the government and the former Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera have done. Now what we must do is take the country forward and stabilise our economy.
Q:  However, there are many allegations against the foreign Ministry. In such an institution, how confident are you of making positive strides?
A:  Just as I restored a collapsing economy in my capacity as the Finance Minister, I will do my best to make positive changes and forge ahead with the good work done so far by my predecessor.
Q:  There are many allegations that our foreign missions have failed to serve the people. Now that you have taken over, what measures would you take to rectify this situation?
A:  I will not leave room for our foreign representatives to make our missions their private holiday homes without serving the people. If they don’t perform, I will ensure that they will return home. I will not keep them and allow them to waste public funds. I will address this issue on a priority basis soon. If anyone has such complaints I urge them to notify me of it and I will take immediate measures to rectify these shortcomings.
Q:  How do you view the foreign policies with regard to India and China?
A:  I think India is our closest neighbour, our best and most powerful friend. I will strive to keep that in mind and also deal with China accordingly as they too have brought a lot of investment to this country.
Q:  What is your message to the expatriate community?
A:  I invite them to come back as this country needs their services. I say to the young people living in foreign countries that they are the country's treasure and we need their youthful energy. Therefore, I urge them to return home and be a part of this transformation and be a part of building a new Sri Lanka.
Q:  How do you intend to face the Geneva allegations of human rights allegations?
A:  I must study this properly first. After that I will implement a plan on how best to face this issue.
Q:  You will be entrusted with the Lotteries Board and Sri Lankan airlines. What are your future plans for these institutions?
A:  Yes these are currently being gazetted. In a few days time I will be able to comment regarding these institutions.
Q:  What are your plans on bringing in foreign investment?
A:  I intend to transform the whole system here. This is something that has to be done. Exports have dropped by 10 billion US dollars. In order to bring a sustainable solution I intend to increase exports by around 20 billion US dollars.
AshWaru Colombo