The Sunday Leader

Mixed Expectations From 2014 Budget

The budget is a yearly reflection of a larger economic vision of the government to financially strengthen the country, even though in the Sri Lankan context, many politicians who come into power hold the view that the budget is a private treasure to be enjoyed during their term of office. Sri Lanka has been unfavorably maintaining a budget deficit of the country’s Gross Domestic Product since 1992 to date.

The war that lasted for nearly 30 years may have undoubtedly affected the economic growth of the country. Four years down the line, the budget still reflects a deficit equal to 6.4 percent of GDP in 2012. A large ratio of the budget allocated to the Defense Ministry during the war continues even after the war. With the cost of living and taxes constantly on the rise, the public is facing many difficulties in continuing their mundane activities. Much criticism has been directed at the government for massive scale corruption and mismanagement in various ministries under the prevailing system.

Even though the government claims that loans are being taken for ongoing development projects, the burden of those loans will be passed on to the public through taxes and other means. The government has been breaching many promises they made to the public on cutting down prices when they were being appointed to office. However in view of the upcoming budget, many demands are being made by many political entities to be included in the budget. Speaking to The Sunday Leader various political entities expressed their views and concerns on many pressing issues of the public.

 

Tilvin Silva JVP General Secretary

The budget is now an invalid topic. In older days, the budget introduced economic policies and made decisions to overcome financial problems of the country. Now, each budget is presented with revised prices that keep increasing drastically over the years.

The country does not have a good economic policy. In last year’s budget, they introduced a casino-based economy and abolished taxes for foreign investors. It has not only encouraged foreign investors but has helped create other socio-cultural problems.

While people in the country pay high taxes, the government has lifted taxes on those foreign investors, which is unacceptable. Small and medium scale businesses are not being given any such release on tax. We have not made any proposals to the budget this time, because we know that by one or two proposals the Sri Lankan economy cannot be salvaged.

The only way to uplift the economy is a national economic vision.
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Dr Vickramabahu Karunaratne
Leader of the Left Front

We have already submitted our demands to the government to grant salary increments of at least Rs 10,000 for both the public and private sectors.

During the last five years, the actual income of the people has declined dramatically in relation to the consumption rate. In order to bring down the high cost of living, the government has to cut down all unnecessary expenditure and commercial borrowings that keep the country continuously in debt.

They also have to take measures to control expenditure on so-called development projects that do not generate any income. Autonomy has to be established in generating income. We want the government to pay more attention into the needs of the fisheries and peasant communities.

Working people need help and substantial development in many areas. If our demands are not met in the budget, we are ready to take action starting next January. The Force for Unity Organization that includes the UNP and several other political parties and civil society will join hands with us to go into action if the government does not respond to our demands.
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Suresh Premachandran TNA MP

What we expect from the upcoming budget for the North is to allocate adequate support to relocate and rehabilitate people who have lost everything due to the war.

There are about 59,000 widows, 12,000 orphans and many disabled persons with different needs. There are many people who are in need of housing and other assistance related to rehabilitation and re-establishment. Highways and A9 roads are not priorities at hand. There are so many secondary roads and by roads that are damaged

. We need those roads to be repaired. Apart from the Indian Housing programme, there aren’t any other housing programmes and we are still in need of several hundred thousand houses.

In the previous years, even after the war, the government kept increasing the defense budget. What they should be doing is allocating a sufficient portion of the budget for education and health and give more priority to critical areas.

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Mano Ganesan
Leader of the Democratic People’s Front

Our main focus in the 2014 budget is the plantation sector.

The daily wage for the estate worker is barely sufficient for survival in this current economy with the cost of living going up rapidly over night.

At present, the minimum daily wage of an estate worker is Rs 450 which is not sufficient.

We expect the government to pay more attention to estate workers and increase their minimum daily wage to Rs 650, which is a very reasonable request.

We also request the government to reduce prices of the daily necessities of the people such as flour, rice and milk powder.
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Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena
Minister of Agriculture

I cannot make a clear comment about the budget as yet. However, the budget 2014 will be a production-oriented budget.

The government will give more focus to agriculture.

It will focus on tea, rubber, coconut and all the other agricultural products.

I am not in a position to make a comment about public concessions to the other sectors but this budget will definitely allocate concessions to the tea plantation sector.
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Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara Thero
Secretary, Bodu Bala Sena

The government should definitely focus on an education system that looks beyond differentiating between children through the Popular School and National School concepts. The main focus of almost all parents is to provide a proper education to their children. We should be ready to face global challenges through education.

The budget should also allocate an adequate amount to the Department of Archaeology as it helps preserve historical monuments. Preserving historical sites and educating people on the history of the country is important to the sustainability of the country.

At present, the Archaeological Department does not have enough funds to spend on research and other activities. Apart from that, the government should focus on human resource development.

There are about 20,000 deaths in the North Central Province due to kidney disease related to arsenic poisoning. Rather than spending on building airports and highways, the government should take action to protect the people.

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Ravi Karunanayake
UNP MP

The 2013 budget hit rock bottom financially affecting the people. The main purpose of a budget is to bring relief to people through proper finance planning and management. It should be designed to benefit the citizens in a process where limited resources are used in the best manner in the best interests of the people. However, there is no sign that the upcoming budget will be any better than the previous one.

The government should first reduce the cost of living by giving a decent salary to the people. It is necessary that the salary should be increased by not less than Rs 10,000 when considering the high costs and taxes. They will also have to reduce the costs and taxes to uplift the living conditions of the people. If the government reduces their corruption, the costs will come down naturally. Right now, the revenue is not sufficient to pay the loans.

The gap in the deficit has widened. On the other hand, they try to reduce the budget deficit by reducing the capital expenditure while increasing the recurrent expenditure. That is not a very futuristic vision.

The budget is there to stimulate the economy. We hope that the government will pay attention to increasing salaries, reducing costs, putting an end to corruption while making right decisions on investments.

It cannot be called ‘development’ when they spend about one million rupees for things that can be done for one hundred rupees. Even though the war is now over, 290 billion rupees was being spent on defense expenses last year. Where is the peace dividend?
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Rumy Marzook
Chairman, Consumer Affairs Authority

At present all, what I can say is that the budget 2014 is going to be a very positive one.

I can assure that the government will look into all the sectors and make the necessary allocations.

People can look forward to the budget with no worries. It will address their issues.
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Vasudeva Nanayakkara
Nava Sama Samaja Party, Minister of
National Languages and Social Integration

I expect the government’s commitment to health, education and livelihoods development projects like Samurdhi and Divineguma.

The 2014 budget should definitely focus on uplifting the life style of the poor.

 

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If you would like to share your views on a political issue, email your comments to the editor@thesundayleader.lk

 

2 Comments for “Mixed Expectations From 2014 Budget”

  1. Flatwhite

    SL is suffering economically and it is only going to get worse. People are worse off now than ever before. More middle class poor. The debts are mounting and people are getting on boats to run away to any country even Bangladesh. It will take generations upon generations to pay off these debts. You cannot hide behind beautification of Colombo when the rest of the country is dying by the day.

  2. Cren

    A)Teli you are apart of destroying the economy at one time. B) Viya the MP’s will be given your suggested privilege and not the masses. C) Prema you too is accountable for the 59,000 widows, 12,000 orphans and disabled in the North and what about the rest of the island?. D) Mano your 250 gesture will give a days meal coverage to the estate person. E) Yapa you should say that the 2014 budget is chinese-oriented. F) Ganasara thero education is done with the mega international university projects. G) Ravi though it’s true they won’t listen to you, they think they’ve the genius in their arson. H) Rumy say it is positive because there are more elephants in line to betray us. I) Vasu yes we need an uplifting including you and what else can you do?

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