Former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe today (16) warned that the Sri Lankan Rupee will hit 300 against the US Dollar before the end of the year.
"The economy is still deteriorating, the government has a shortage of Dollars and Rupees. They are trying to solve this issue by printing Rupees.
Today, the actual market value of the Rupee is 250 against the US Dollar. It's going to increase and may go upto 275. If we don't take measures to stop this, the Rupee will hit 300 against the Dollar at the end of the year.
It has caused us a lot of damage. Around 500,000 people have been pushed into poverty and this will likely increase in the future," Wickremesinghe said.
Releasing a video on social media, the former Prime Minister said:
Middle class on the brink of destruction
The middle class has collapsed. Farming communities have been decimated. SME entrepreneurs can't find goods needed for production.
Similarly, by July, we have to start repaying the next tranche of our loans. Our debt servicing begins again and we have to repay USD 6 Billion this year.
And the issue we have here is we have not started any discussions with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). I don't think we have any option but to pay the loans in June and July that are due and the government will have to find money for this.
Another issue we have is regarding foreign exchange transactions which aren't being done through banks. Now, banks are suffering as people have moved to the Hawala system. Will the banks recover from this? That's an open question.
So, these are all issues which are really contributing to the misery that we are all facing. I would like to say there's only one course of action for us.
Consult the IMF
The IMF, under Article 04, has to have consultations with member countries every year. The consultation with Sri Lanka started in December and the report will be put before the Board next week and after Board approval is given, it will be released.
Once the report is released, the government should table a copy of the report in Parliament. We should debate the report. We should not debate it based on partisan politics. Let's not look at who is responsible but let's look at the report. We can then consider the steps that need to be taken in order to recover.
We should come to a consensus about our broad economic policies and our framework. It has to hold for not five years, but 10 or more years, and that is the only way we can win back the confidence of the world.
'Only national asset'
We have to remember that we have only one national asset. They are the youth of this country. We call them the millennials and Gen Z. Their future depends on what we do. They've already lost hope for the future.
Then it is our responsibility as Members of Parliament to discuss these issues and come to an agreement on the broad economic principles and the framework that should be there in terms of short term, medium term and long term policies.
If we don't do this, the youth will curse us. They will say you destroyed the country's future. You destroyed our future. Therefore we must rise to this challenge."