The Sunday Leader

Expats Invited To Return – Ravi Karunanayake

As the Finance Minister, he committed himself for around two years and four months to rebuild the country’s economy that was on the verge of collapse. Before he took over as the Foreign Minister, 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 The Sunday Leader:-


by Ashanthi Warunasuriya


Q:  When you took over as Finance Minister in what state was the ministry?

A:  I have complete faith in the President and Prime Minister. I have done my best over the past two years. When we were handed the country in 2015, it was an empty Treasury that was given to us. However, despite the challenges, I never broke the trust they placed in me. If I have made any mistake, they have the right to correct me. I have implemented the requirements of the International Monetary organisations in a very balanced manner. The Banker Magazine published in London, which is considered the financial capital of the world, had a reason for naming me as the world’s best Finance Minister based on my strategic planning.


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 make a big noise about what we were doing but we worked. But, the previous regime made a huge noise but nothing was done. That is the difference between them and us. Although we imposed a 4% Vat, 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 levelling 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:  There is talk 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 strived 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. That is why 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 Mangala 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 definitely send them 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 countries 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. I intend to increase exports by around $ 20 billion.

16 Comments for “Expats Invited To Return – Ravi Karunanayake”

  1. tomsam

    First declare the Eelam state and recognize the rights of Tamil speaking people.
    We are NOT going to be lured by your false pretense to start another holocaust.

    • Sinhaya

      Bullshit. You can declare realm at your home under the petticoat govt of your wife.

  2. dex

    who is going to come back to a failed state?

  3. Eng.M.V.R.Perera

    he could have done much better if he accepted the proposal to make the government servants which includes himself to pay income tax it would have given us a surplus budget and VAT could have been reduced to 2 % and relieved the heavy burden on we the people

  4. How can we expats return when we have to pay hundreds of millions exorbitant customs and other levies, for our cars and equipment ?

    • Jerome

      You are inviting the expats to come back, but don’t you know the earnings of the expatriates are the major source of income of the country?

      If they return, imagine the state of the budget deficit and the rate of unemployment?

  5. Malin

    As an Ex-Banker I had some respect for the Banker Magazine. But it’s no more there after they conferred our thwice failed FM with the Best Banker of the year (First para) award which he boasts about it.

    • Canute

      “”As an Ex-Banker I had some respect for the Banker Magazine.”"
      Poor Sole! like any other colony boy you fooled yourself with the patchwork language, patchwork culture, patchwork anglican (yours too) the land of the foremost pirates of the world! When coolies becomes governors anything happens even to businessman of Lanka courtesy Brits.

  6. punchinilame

    On the question of returning ex-sri lankans, the grant of dual citizenship has to be
    quickened. It is reported that there is a backlog, with many applications of over 2
    years. Most of them are hidden in the data base under “Hong Kong” and a bribe
    of USD 350.00 (Rs.50,000) is alleged to being levied for an expeditious turn-around.
    If there are say 500 in this database, @ USD 350 each the expected bribery
    income will be Rs. 25 million!! Does the Minister in charge know anything about
    this mafia act taking place under his nose?

  7. saman

    World best finance minister replaced by world best Foreign minister , good luck sri lanka they have suck all out blood out , we all deceived by yahapalanaya crooks, and no elections either

    • jagath

      The fee for Duel citizenship must be reduced or even by passed for Senior Citz and even the spouse category to encourage more past sri lankans to come back,let us hear more on duel Citizenship now

  8. L. Perera

    Even a fifth grader knows that the Lankan economy has been on the decline and is worse now than then. Politicians and ministers should not imagine that the Lankans are idiots.
    Educated young Expats are not stupid and know that their prospects in SL are zero. Which reminds me of a remark made by a Kandyan peasant when he was shown the then house of Parliament with the statues of Politicians in the front of the building.
    ” Mung rata Kaala thang. Maha muhuda bonda balanawa”.

  9. garawi

    With the corruption still rampant , wasting people’s money for 225 luxury cars of which 100 were sold for 33 million each encouraging corruption, the GMOA misbehaving, the JVP running riot in the streets, the inflation rising, politicians having no plan for future by only thinking of embezzlement only but no development, seeing no alternative to the existing system that might change the course for betterment, do you think the expats who went for greener grass will return ? I do not!

  10. Canute

    Your guru Branson is a well known pirate of the world; theft of tubular bells to Sabena Airlines (Belgium) to…….Barry the ladies man, warmonger is being exposed by his woman anthropologist at Chicago Sheila Jager.
    Take care doublespeak Lankan Trump is hot stuff and Rex do not mince words.
    IMF loan and Samanta ge Salli natha! Oil is bound to go up with the looming ME crisis though the folk do not feel the difference at the pump.
    There is no way you will increase exports when the ME war Sunni-Shiah irrupts The EU needs $180 billion of Oil from Russia and Saudi.

  11. Kamal Gamage

    In 1994 I returned to Sri Lanka and made a hefty contribution to the country. But in 2010 I had to go back to another country again as some individuals and ministers started harassing me by false complains and cases.

    I have still not published the details as I am afraid my family also will be harassed.

    I wrote to Janapatita Kiyanna in details nothing happend.

    To me there are no two parties in Sri Lanka they all get to gether and haress innocents.

    As long as this culture of harresment is there and as long as jungle law prevails in Sr Lanka I do not think any one take a risk of going back.

  12. vas

    These are empty words of a politician. What concrete steps would you take to encourage expats to come back, No politician wishes expats to come back as then they will have to be accountable.

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