Colombo, November 2: Notwithstanding the political crisis in Sri Lanka, new Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa on Friday significantly slashed fuel prices, saying "ill-conceived" financial policies of the previous government have affected the economy and raised the cost of living.
Rajapaksa, who is also the Finance Minister, reduced the prices of petrol and diesel by Rs 10 (USD 0.058) and Rs 7 (USD 0.048) per litre respectively as he announced a new series of economic relief measures.
The announcement was made even as the constitutional validity of Rajapaksa's appointment has come under increased scrutiny both locally and internationally. Sri Lanka Parliament Speaker Recognises Ranil Wickremesinghe as PM.
The Finance Ministry said in a statement that concerns have been raised regarding the serious setback in the economy as reflected in the persistently low growth rates during the last three years along with the rising cost of living.
"The honorable Prime Minister (Rajapaksa) is of the view that ill-conceived economic and financial policies of the previous government have led to this situation by marginalising local entrepreneurs, industries and domestic production," it said.
The ministry said that the budget targets could be met in 2018 despite tax cuts. "The government is confident that the primary surplus of 1.8 per cent of the GDP and the budget deficit of around 4.9 per cent of the GDP that have been targeted for 2018 could be achieved in support for further fiscal consolidation to provide economic stability," the Finance Ministry said.
President Sirisena replaced Wickremesinghe with Rajapaksa in a dramatic turn of events last Friday and suspended Parliament after the sacked premier sought an emergency session to prove his majority.
Wickremesinghe has refused to accept his dismissal, claiming to be the country's legitimate premier. He argues that he cannot legally be removed until he loses the support of Parliament and called for a floor test to prove his majority.