Government Prepares Legislation for New Economy in Response to Youth Demands.

  • Proposed Laws Set to Introduce Structural Changes, Scheduled for Presentation to Parliament in May – President.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe stated that the nation is undergoing a transformation in its economy by embracing the changes advocated by the youth. This shift is aimed at driving the country towards rapid development under their leadership.

The fundamental legislation pertaining to the establishment of the new economy will be presented to Parliament in May and approved by June, he added.

President Wickremesinghe made this declaration (07) during his address at the “Let’s Start with Me” Kandy District Youth Conference held at the President’s House, Kandy.

Elaborating further, the President said:

“If we fail to drive the country towards rapid development, its future remains bleak. It rests upon the youth to determine whether to allow the economy to stagnate, advance it forward, or permit its collapse.

If the economic agenda of the present government is dismissed, the economy of the country risks another collapse. Not everyone possesses the means to depart the country financially. Thus, it is incumbent upon all of us to collectively bolster the country’s economy.

The youth express dissatisfaction with the prevailing economic framework within the country, clamouring for change. We are actively engaged in constructing a new economic model to meet this demand. The foundational laws necessary for this endeavour are anticipated to be presented to Parliament in May and enacted by June. Effecting change in the economy necessitates a corresponding transformation in the country’s legal framework.

The collaboration of all government departments and corporations is essential in steering the nation towards rapid economic advancement. If achieving this objective proves challenging, a revision of institutional structures becomes imperative.

Furthermore, the country’s economy cannot develop without parallel development in rural areas. Every prosperous nation has bolstered its rural agricultural economy. Hence, we have initiated the agricultural modernization program to introduce modern agricultural practices to villages. In light of this, it falls upon the youth to determine whether to embrace change and drive forward or remain inert.

When the United National Party (UNP) assumed power in 1977, President J.R. Jayewardene urged the youth to lead the nation forward, stating, “If you are prepared to take on this task, I am here to provide the requisite guidance.”

In response, the youth actively engaged in the electoral process and drove the United National Party (UNP) to victory. Subsequently, President J.R. Jayewardene initiated the Mahaweli Program, originally slated for a 30-year timeline, which was accomplished within a decade, providing the nation with essential electricity. During his tenure, two trade zones were established. Building on these initiatives, President R. Premadasa launched 200 garment factories nationwide, bolstering the rural economy.

As youth, we advocated for these programs during that period. Today, if the youth are ready, let us embark on this journey together. Efforts are underway to enact the necessary legislation to establish a new economy. Let us introduce the Economy Restructuring Act and commence this initiative. Additionally, endeavours are being made to introduce new fiscal legislation to regulate government finances.

Despite women comprising the majority of the country’s population, their representation in the workforce remains insufficient.

Consequently, we are introducing two new bills aimed at safeguarding women’s rights. These initiatives will be presented to Parliament in May. We anticipate that these measures will catalyse significant change within the country. I extend an invitation for you to join us in this endeavour for change.

I will not tolerate any party attempting to deceive you with falsehoods. I acknowledge your concerns, and it is imperative to emphasize that these new laws are intended to address those very issues.”

Here are a few of the queries raised by the youth and the corresponding responses provided by the President:

Mr. President, we have witnessed the implementation of various ordinances in our country. Moreover, the recently established JanaSabha appears to be a promising initiative. However, it appears that the establishment of JanaSabhas has slowed down. Could you provide some insight on this matter?

Response of the President:
The JanaSabha initiative is indeed commendable. Currently, only a few have been initiated on a trial basis. It’s crucial that the public conducts themselves in a manner that avoids complications during the formalization of public gatherings. There are several challenges to address, such as the selection of members. It is imperative that we engage in discussions with the Ministry of Local Government to resolve these issues before proceeding further. If it’s not feasible to address these challenges this year, we aim to restart the JanaSabha initiative next year.

We have observed shortcomings in the provision of Aswesuma benefits. We aspire for all impoverished families to receive these benefits.

Response of the President:
The government has initiated measures to address these deficiencies, particularly by scrutinizing eligibility criteria for providing such benefits. Plans are underway to computerize this program by 2025, aiming to extend these benefits to 2.4 million families. The Aswesuma program was launched to provide assistance to all disadvantaged individuals across the country.

The tourism industry in our country, which had faced a downturn, now seems to be thriving. Small businesses are inquiring about potential plans to implement a program aimed at distributing the benefits of tourism to industrialists.

Response of the President:
Following the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic challenges faced by the nation, our tourism sector indeed experienced a significant decline. However, we are pleased to note that tourist arrivals to our country have started to rise once more.

In light of the revival in tourism, we are actively pursuing initiatives to grant concessions to small-scale entrepreneurs. Additionally, we have devised strategies to propel the tourism sector in our country towards rapid growth. Consequently, plans are underway to establish committees dedicated to promoting tourism in each province.

There are insufficient job opportunities for young individuals who have completed vocational training. Could you please elaborate on the steps taken regarding these trainees?

Response of the President:
Amidst the economic crisis, some individuals unfortunately lost their jobs. However, the country is gradually emerging from this financial turmoil. Particularly with the expansion of investment opportunities, numerous new job openings are being generated.

Labour and Foreign Employment Minister Manusha Nanayakkara, State Ministers Lohan Ratwatte, Anuradha Jayaratne, Senior Advisor to the President on National Security and Chief of Presidential Staff Sagala Ratnayake, UNP General Secretary Palitha Range Bandara, former MP K.K. Piyadasa, and United National Party’s Chairman Lakvanitha Peramuna Shanthini Kongahage attended the event.