Budget 2019 benefits for all sectors | Daily News

Budget 2019 benefits for all sectors

Special emphasis on education, health and livelihood needs
Government revenue to exceed 17% of the Gross Domestic Product

Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera presented the second reading of the Appropriation Bill for year 2019 (Budget Speech) in parliament last afternoon at 2.00 p.m.

According to the Finance Minister, the main objective of this year’s Budget is to empower the people and uplift the quality of life of the poor. Special emphasis was also placed on education, health and livelihood needs through the expansion of the Enterprise Sri Lanka Programme.

The budget has included plans to increase Government revenue to exceed 17 percent of the Gross Domestic Production (GDP) by 2021 and limit government recurrent expenditure to 15 percent of the GDP.

Several MPs expressed their views to the Daily News regarding the budget and some were pleased with the provisions of the budget, others were sceptical with regard to the practical implementation of several proposals included in the budget. However, the Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa said he was very disappointed with the budget. “They have increased the allowances of only the Commandos, but what about the rest of the military personnel? I don’t see this as a budget targeting the elections either.In fact they have completely forgotten about the agriculture sector. Everything looks good on paper but wait and see in a short time everyone will start feeling the pinch of this budget through the various taxes.”

However, the Tamil National Alliance was of the view that the budget is development oriented on the surface and there are no freebees that people expected, which is good. “However it is the implementation which has often failed and we have to see how these proposals are implemented. We will be closely monitoring it. The government has allocated funds for the development of the North and East which we have been asking for a long time. It is a considerable sum and we also invite others to contribute to that fund so that projects could be undertaken which will result in new economic activities resulting in job creation.This is one of the biggest issues in the North and East,” TNA MP M.A.Sumanthiran noted.

The Leader of the All Ceylon Makkal Congress Rishad Bathiudeen welcomed the budget and said funds have been allocated for education, roads, water, sanitation and for special development of the North and East. There has not been any discrimination between the allocations for the south and the north and east. The allocations have been done very fairly. I really appreciate this budget that has been presented by the Finance Minister on behalf of the government.”

“We welcome the allocations made in this budget to the war affected areas. However, we are obviously concerned about the implementation of these proposals. Well let’s see how things will go. I have faith that development in the North will happen as expected,” TNA MP Dharmalingham Sidharthan said.

However, several of the Joint Opposition MP’s were not so optimistic, claiming that on paper it all looks attractive but implementation is easier said than done. Expressing his views on the budget, Joint Opposition MP Keheliya Rambukwella said, “We have experienced from 1950 that the budget was most attractive on paper. However, everyone knows how it is when it comes to implementing these proposals. In the first year they said that 6% would be allocated for education, but have they done that? Has the people seen or experienced it? Basically, these are all figures that will attract the people because this is an election year. However, implementation wise, the practice of this government has been totally negative and we have not seen anything constructive happening, Therefore it is the same thing that happened for the past four years that will happen again. In 2015, they gave the people a carrot, at this budget they have given the people kilos of carrots.”

JVP MP Bimal Ratnayake said the current UNP budget was not one that is aimed at getting the country out of the debt trap it currently is in. “This budget has nothing to uplift the falling agriculture sector, the service sector or the export sector. There are no substantial remedial measures included in this budget. The UNP is currently weakened and this budget is mainly aimed at providing relief measures to just a chosen group of society. Although there were measures in the last budget to eradicate poverty, the Finance Minister admitted that poverty had increased by 600,000 and now they are trying to increase the Samurdhi allowance to cover this figure.They are doing this to gain votes for the, in simple terms this is a budget that is targeting the election.”

However he said it was welcomed that certain sections of society such as the disabled were always left out in previous budgets, but this time they have been taken into account. “This is a good move.”

On the issues faced by the farmers in the agriculture sector, he said everything has been included under the enterprise Sri Lanka initiative. “The farmers are already in debt and giving them further loans is certainly not helpful. They will only end up getting themselves deeper into debt. The whole budget is about the government obtaining loans and on the other hand they are encouraging the farmers and businesses also to take loans. This is a budget that makes the farmers get into debt while the country is also being put further into debt.”

“On the education sphere, in previous budgets there were some significant allocations for education, but this budget has nothing for higher education except for just one faculty at the Ruhuna University. Even Mangala Samaraweera would accept that there are hardly any benefits for higher education in this budget compared to previous budgets. However, the only positive feature we see in this budget is that there are certain allocations for those marginalised in society,” he added.

Meanwhile, MP Ratnayake said that last year’s budget was aimed at a green economy, but this year there is nothing to indicate the continuation of that initiative. “A budget should be something that continues.This year there is nothing that indicates the continuity of last year’s green economy concept. They just pick an area and conjure up a few proposals and put it together to appease the people. But there is no continuity. There should have been a second phase to last year’s budget but sadly there is nothing even mentioned about the green economy concept this time. This whole budget is simply targeting the next election.”

UPFA MP Susil Premajayantha said this budget lacks vision and plan.“In simple terms, there is nothing in this budget that provides relief for the people who are suffering economically. Even though this is an election year, they have done nothing to provide relief for the people at least targeting that.”

Another UPFA MP Dr.Sarath Amunugama said, “The problem is that there are a lot of optimistic figures, but can we collect that revenue? Can they cut down on waste? This is a big question and we will have to wait and see what happens.”

Power Energy and Business Development Minister Ravi Karunanayake stated, “It’s good to see that a budget is put forward confirming the budgetary allocations, this budget shows a sustainable development. It shows the capital expenditure been brought down to where it is required, and a discipline orientated budget”.

When asked if the budget is all inclusive? He added, “Yes, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. The allocations done on a systematic basis, will achieve everybody’s concerns that it is ensured it is done and an all inclusive budget”.

State Minister of Finance and Mass Media Eran Wickramaratne said, “Among the public there is a feeling, the budget is a relief measure. Budgets are not about relief measures, it’s about economic development.

This is a balance between fiscal consolidation and protecting the vulnerable, and it’s worthwhile. We had lots of measures on that, the fiscal consolidation will continue and the budget deficit from 7.7 % has been brought down to 5.5 %. In the next year end it will go down to 5% and even below 4.5 %. The GDP (Gross) from 1% will go up to 1.5 %, the consolidation will be kept, and the government is building a foundation for the next 10 years. The government has skilled the work force, to gear them for the new economic development. Adding to all this, the elderly and disabled have been protected also, and women are a big part of our economy, and the government has announced various methods to involve women further in the economy, including the government funding maternity expenses in the private sector.”

When asked if he thinks the budget is all inclusive, he said the economic policy that the government is following is all inclusive and the budget reflects that.

MP Hirunika Premachandra said, “The budget is very thoughtfully implemented; every area has been covered with much thought and concern. Bringing in and giving a lot of importance to working women, considering the soldiers and Samurdhi recipients.This is definitely not a budget targeting the elections.”

Member of Parliament and Tamil National Alliance leader, R.Sampanthan in his interpretation of the budget said, “The budget has cover very wide area, but how will the government redeem the debt is in question. It’s a budget that has focused on jobs, generation of income and redeeming the country from debt.”

Non Cabinet Minister of Mass Media and State Minister of Defence, Ruwan Wijewardene said, “It’s a very good and balanced budget. Minister Mangala Samaraweera has done a really good job in presenting a very balanced budget this time.

This budget is promoting business and productivity in the country. Giving the needed concessions for the business community, this itself is showing how balanced the budget is.Minister Samaraweera had to think about the debt incurred by the previous government, which is the biggest burden which government had to deal with for the last three to four years. A special thanks to him for not forgetting the war heroes, it’s been 10 years since the war has ended and the sacrifices the soldiers have made.”

When asked if he thinks it is an all inclusive budget, he said, “Given the current situation in the country I don’t think we could have an all inclusive budget.

The government has been economically saddled with debt where the government has to repay. With the economic burden we are having it’s a very good budget”.


 

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