COLOMBO: Sri Lanka expects an economic growth rate of 4.7 percent this year, up from 4.4 percent last year, despite a prolonged drought and devastating floods in many parts of the country, a top official said Friday. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe making an economic policy statement at the Central Bank was more optimistic and said he hoped the annual growth rate for 2017 will be 5.0 percent although the Bank placed it between 4.5 to 5. A top official who declined to be named said he expected growth at a comfortable 4.7 percent thanks to the reconstruction and rehabilitation after the double blow of floods and the drought.
The source who declined to be named said policy rates were likely to follow a downward trend in the international markets, but the exchange rate was likely to remain favourable to exporters to ensure competitiveness of Sri Lankan manufacturers. The Prime Minister said the country could have achieved up to 6.0 percent growth this year if not for the drought and the floods that killed hundreds and left tens of thousands destitute. “We were looking at 6 percent if this (tragedy) had not taken place. Keeping (growth) at 4.5 to 5 percent is good. We had a tight monetary policy towards the end of 2016. we are now stabilised.” Wickremesinghe said the government was clearing the “swamp” in the past two years and built a solid foundation for the economy to take off. “We were elected to transform the country, reform the national government with Maithripala Sirisena as president. To go ahead with it, we have made the parliament partners in the administration. “We have a clear vision and a determination and a strong leadership to build a stronger economy for all of you. We are no longer a swamp.”