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http://www.vilanguwa.info/2016/05/mahitripala-sirisena-gossip-vilanguwa.html
01 June 2016

Sri Lanka Should Tackle Government Corruption, Tax Evasion: Wall Street Journal
President Maithripala SirisenaSri Lanka's government's decision to increase the Value Added Tax will hurt businesses, the Wall Street Journal said recently. A better option for the government would have been to tackle government corruption and to stop tax evasion, it further said in an article titled "Sri Lanka's Credit Crunch." The Wall Street Journal also said that former President Mahinda Rajapaksa is to be blamed for much of Sri Lanka's financial woes. The recent IMF bailout was a reality check for the country's reformers, it added. The full article is reproduced below: Sri Lanka sought a $1.5 billion bailout from the International Monetary Fund last month after saddling itself with billions of dollars in Chinese loans. This is a reality check for reformers who hoped that last year’s election of the liberal-minded Maithripala Sirisena as President would alleviate fiscal woes. Sri Lanka’s economic growth slowed to 4.8% last year after averaging near 7% under former President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Investors are running for the exits, selling $577 million in rupee bonds in the first quarter. The central bank depleted foreign-exchange reserves by a third to keep the rupee from plunging, while exports and remittances dropped. Much of the blame lies with Mr. Rajapaksa. He appointed three of his brothers to head important ministries while leading the finance, defense and public-works ministries himself. Together the brothers controlled 70% of Sri Lanka’s budget. A Rajapaksa crony directing the central bank fueled public spending by printing money and driving inflation to around 15%. China proved a willing partner on the Rajapaksa family’s designs. Eager for access to Sri Lanka’s ports, Beijing filled the funding void left by the U.S. and longtime ally India during the island’s decades-long civil war. In 2007, Mr. Rajapaksa signed a $1.5 billion deal, amounting to nearly 2% of GDP, to construct an airport and port near his hometown of Hambantota. Chinese companies China Harbour Engineering Company and Sinohydro Corporation built the main port facilities.

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