"Empowering Tomorrow: Insights from the 5th National Youth Parliament Session"

In a dynamic gathering orchestrated by the National Youth Service Council, the 5th session of the Fifth National Youth Parliament unfolded on November 18 and 19 at the historic Parliament Chamber of the Presidential Secretariat. Themed around "Getting youth ideas and suggestions for effective use of the 2024 budget proposals to overcome the economic challenges faced by Sri Lanka today," the session drew prominent figures, including State Minister of Finance Shehan Semasinghe and the Chairman of the National Youth Service Council, Mr. Pasindu Gunaratne, as Chief Guests.

Prime Minister Pathum Ranasinghe set the tone for the session with an inaugural address, delving into key topics such as the Youth Parliament Act, the Political Academy, the role of Regional Development Committees, and the digitization of the Youth Parliament. The assembly witnessed the presentation of a letter from President Ranil Wickremesinghe to commend the young parliamentarians for their valuable proposals and ideas regarding the 2024 budget.

State Minister Shehan Semasinghe, during his address, emphasized the government's commitment to making informed decisions that prioritize the long-term economic well-being of Sri Lanka. He underlined the contrast between the current circumstances and those preceding 2022, highlighting the broad support of the youth for President Wickremesinghe's steadfast leadership.

Mr. Semasinghe further conveyed the government's belief that the Youth Parliament members have gained a comprehensive understanding of the presented budget document. The overarching goal of the 2024 budget is to propel the country's currently stable economy to full stability, ensuring a future that is economically resilient and progressive.

As the 5th session of the Sri Lankan Youth Parliament concluded, it left an imprint of active engagement, thoughtful deliberations, and a shared commitment to shaping a brighter future for Sri Lanka. The youth, as the driving force, showcased their dedication to contributing ideas and suggestions crucial for overcoming economic challenges and fostering sustainable development in the nation.

"Charting a Resilient Future: Sri Lanka's Economic Vision for 2024"

The focal point of this year's budget is a bold aspiration — to make 2024 a year of economic growth. A collective effort, marked by significant sacrifices from the entire nation, underscores this ambitious goal. The echoes of the challenges faced in 2022 serve as a stark reminder of undesirable experiences that no one wishes to relive. Consequently, the formulation of this budget is informed by a comprehensive understanding of the crisis and its underlying causes, with the overarching aim of propelling the nation forward.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe's resolute leadership has been instrumental in this endeavor, and the people of Sri Lanka have rallied behind this determination. The bridge between the state of the country 15 months ago and the present one would remain unconstructed without the public's unwavering faith in this determination. The collaborative efforts among key entities such as the President, the Ministry of Finance, the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, the President's Office, various ministries, and the citizens have played a pivotal role in achieving the current economic stability.

The journey, however, has not been without its challenges, as the nation underwent a rigorous and painful period to arrive at its present state. It is crucial to acknowledge and comprehend the disparities between the situation 15 months ago and the present. While Sri Lanka is not the only country to have faced a severe economic collapse, its remarkable transformation onto a trajectory of recovery within a short span stands as a testament to resilience.

The restoration of the economy extends beyond political considerations. The government, including the President, refrained from making decisions solely for popularity, recognizing that such decisions could have exacerbated the pre-2022 situation. Acknowledging the indispensable role of the youth in steering the country forward, the State Minister has invited the youth community to actively contribute their ideas and suggestions. The government is prepared to make necessary amendments if presented with viable and sustainable proposals, emphasizing the importance of guidance that transcends political opinions for the nation's trajectory. In this spirit of collaboration and forward-thinking, Sri Lanka looks towards a future guided by collective wisdom and resilience.

"Shaping Tomorrow: Government Advocates Data-Driven Decision-Making and Youth Empowerment"

In a call for comprehensive scrutiny, the government emphasizes the importance of evaluating both the positive aspects and areas necessitating further improvement within the budget. Anchoring the future of decision-making in data-based approaches, the President and the government pledge a commitment to policy decisions grounded in meticulously evaluated data and numbers. The success of the program aimed at advancing the country, aligned with global best practices, rests significantly on the support and active involvement of the youth community.

The occasion, graced by notable figures including Youth Parliament Speaker Nipuni Abeydeera, Prime Minister Pathum Ranasinghe, Opposition Leader Sitija Mihiranga, Presidential Director of Youth Affairs & Sustainable Development Mr. Randula Abeweera, and Director of Youth Affairs & Sustainable Development Satira Sarathchandra, highlights the collective commitment towards fostering a future shaped by informed decision-making and the empowerment of the nation's youth.

As Sri Lanka navigates a trajectory of progress, the government's emphasis on data-driven governance underscores a strategic shift toward transparency, efficiency, and global best practices. The active participation of the youth community in this transformative journey is not just encouraged but deemed essential for steering the country towards a future aligned with the aspirations of its citizens and the principles of sustainable development.

"In conclusion, as Sri Lanka charts its course towards a future of progress and development, the government's call for a thorough examination of the budget reflects a commitment to transparency and accountability. The pivot towards data-driven decision-making underscores a strategic shift in governance, emphasizing the importance of evidence-based approaches for shaping policies.

The government's dedication to aligning the country with global best practices is evident in its emphasis on properly evaluated data and numbers. This commitment, coupled with the recognition of the indispensable role of the youth community, sets the stage for a collaborative and inclusive approach to nation-building.

The presence of key figures at the occasion, including Youth Parliament Speaker Nipuni Abeydeera, Prime Minister Pathum Ranasinghe, Opposition Leader Sitija Mihiranga, Presidential Director of Youth Affairs & Sustainable Development Mr. Randula Abeweera, and Director of Youth Affairs & Sustainable Development Satira Sarathchandra, highlights the collective resolve towards fostering a future marked by informed decision-making and the empowerment of the nation's youth.

As Sri Lanka progresses through a transformative journey, the convergence of data-driven governance and the active involvement of the youth community becomes the cornerstone of a resilient and forward-looking nation. The challenges of the past are met with a spirit of collaboration, setting the stage for a future that reflects the aspirations of its citizens and embraces the principles of sustainable development."