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DateLine Sunday, 30 September 2007

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COL, infrastructure development, top priority in 2008 Budget - Siyambalapitiya


The Government has identified the cost-of-living and infrastructure development as key challenges and will give top priority to ease the burden of people and expedite work on development projects, said Deputy Finance Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya.

He was speaking on the Government's plans to raise revenue and its Budget expenditure for 2008 at the Finance Ministry on Thursday.

Siyambalapitiya said eradicating terrorism and ushering peace to the country is a priority of the Government and the Government will do its utmost to put an end to the war, the major obstacle to develop the country.

"By no means do we intend to increase the expenditure on war and undermine development and the burning issues of the people. The people's safety and security will not be compromised and steps will be taken to minimise terror attacks and ensure the maximum safety of people", the Deputy Minister said.

He said the Budget will also focus on developing the Northern and Eastern provinces which have been badly affected by a three-decade old war.

"Sectors have been identified and development programs will be launched early next year", he said.

The Deputy Minister said the Cabinet has approved Rs. 1,516.3 billion as the total Budget expenditure for 2008 which is a 15 percent increase compared to the expenditure this year.

The total Budget expenditure for this year is Rs. 1,285 billion. The recurrent expenditure for 2008 will be Rs. 726 billion, an increase of 17 percent while the capital expenditure will be Rs. 790 billion, a 14 percent increase compared to this year's expenditure.

Siyambalapitiya said expediting work on the Norochcholai coal power plant, Upper Kotmale project, the Southern highway, Gama Neguma and Maga Neguma programs and other major infrastructure programs will be given priority in the Budget.

When asked about the comments of the main Opposition Leader on Mihin Air and Lankaputhra Development Bank, he said the Government had not acted contrary to the law and that he will make a statement at the next parliament session.

"The UNP is having day dreams of defeating the Government during the Budget debate. The Government is confident of victory and will present a people friendly Budget", Siyambalapitiya said.

LF

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