Colombo, Nov 8 (IANS): Tax concessions for the private sector, a more technocratic approach to administration and depoliticising policymaking were among the pledges made by six of the leading Sri Lankan presidential candidates who came together on a public platform ahead of the November 16 polls.
The candidates participated in the third edition of the popular Fireside Chat series held under the title ‘What Lies Ahead: With the Leading Presidential Candidates’ at the Galle Face Hotel here on Thursday, the Daily Financial Times reported.
The contenders at the event comprised Sajith Premadasa (National Democratic Front), Anura Kumara Dissanayaka (Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna), Rohan Pallewatte (National Development Front), Ajantha Perera (Socialist Party of Sri Lanka), and Gamini Nanda Gunawardena who represented Mahesh Senanayake (National People’s Party).
Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna’s Gotabaya Rajapaksa was not present at the event but sent a voice message.
Premadasa said his economic policies would encourage free enterprise and measures to avoid unnecessary obstacles to the country’s wealth-creating mechanism and foster an environment in which small, medium and big businesses could grow.
“We are trying to empower the private sector with adequate fiscal and monetary support. This balance is essential if one is to stabilise the economy and encourage growth. Fiscal growth provides businesses and private entrepreneurs with a conducive environment with tax breaks, reduction of the tax burden and simplified tax structures,” he said.
While Dissanayaka’s economic policies would primarily focus on minimising waste and corruption as well as simplifying the tax structure, Pallewatta, who is contesting from the Jathika Sangwardhena Peramuna, said that he placed his bets on Sri Lanka’s economic growth due to the uniqueness of Sri Lankans.
Perera said that one reason for the economy stagnating was that elected presidents did not give up their political affiliation but worked to strengthen it instead of concentrating on development.
Gunawardena said his party’s policy was to bring more educated people into the fold and use their skills to develop the economy.
In his video message, Rajapaksa said that what Sri Lanka needed was not a traditional politician but a technocrat who could think innovatively and work closely with multiple stakeholders to ensure the nation did not get left behind by the rest of the world.
The former Defence Minister added that his policy was to empower the private sector to take charge of economic growth and to create an enabling environment.
The November 16 elections are the eighth presidential polls in the island nation’s history. A record 35 candidates are in the fray.