Budget 2015 stuns the Opposition
President Mahinda Rajapaksa presented another people-friendly and
development-oriented Budget in Parliament on Friday afternoon. President
Rajapaksa presented his 10th consecutive budget in his capacity as the
Finance and Planning Minister.
Presenting the budget, he said that this budget will lay the
foundation to enable our people to reach a per capita income of US
dollars 7,500 by 2020.
Budget 2015 unveiled proposals that brought relief to all folk, the
highlight of which was a wage increase ranging from Rs. 3,500 to Rs.
15,000 making the lowest ranked employee in the public service receive a
minimum monthly income of Rs. 30,000. The minimum basic salary of a
public servant will be raised to Rs.15,000.
The maximum PAYE Tax rate has been fixed at 16 percent to ease the
burden of wage earning employees and professionals and to reduce the
Value Added Tax to 11 percent.
The President also proposed to place pensioners’ emoluments based not
on the 2006 salary as was requested, but on the proposed 2015 salary
structure to permanently correct the inherent anomalies affecting
pensioners when salaries of public servants are revised. All pension
payments will be adjusted in accordance with the 2015 new salary
structure. The government will also reduce domestic water bills by 10
The budget also proposed to introduce a pension scheme for apparel
sector employees and Sri Lankans employed abroad and a pension scheme
and an insurance scheme for three-wheeler drivers.
In short, the Budget 2015 had something for everybody and the
Opposition was stunned and were short of words to describe it. Having
concluded the Budget speech, President Rajapaksa turned to the
Opposition and asked how he fared as a villager from a far flung area.
Kohomada game baiyyage weda? he asked in Sinhala but none of the
parliamentarians attempted to give any reply.
Even during his near three-hour Budget speech, the President took a
few breaks to give replies to some of the questions raised by Opposition
The Budget also proposed to extend the insurance scheme introduced in
2013 to compensate loss to human life and property and to cover crop
damage from elephants as well, from 2015.
When the President, speaking under the topic of wildlife protection,
declared that relied would be granted to the victims of wild elephant
attacks and cultivations destroyed, Puttalam District UNP
parliamentarian asked whether such grants would be given to “elephants
who damage the government”.
Bandara was making an indirect reference to the UNP parliamentarians
who criticise the Government. “I can’t see any elephant capable of
challenging or damaging the Government,” the President replied. “The
elephants must be behind,” Range Bandara said. But the President said he
could see both the front and behind equally well. “If not I would not
have been able to remain this long,” the President said.
There wasn’t much response when the President announced that a
special bank interest of 12 percent would be granted to pensioners. “Why
don’t you clap and commend the relief granted to pensioners?” the
President asked the Opposition.
Ranil runs away
When the President declared that every citizen would be offered a
free medical checkup, an Opposition parliamentarian wanted to know
whether that would be applied to them as well. “We don’t have political
differences, everybody would get that opportunity,” the President
After the President declared that the Rs. 1,000 special allowance
granted to elders would be increased to Rs. 2,000, another Opposition MP
queried whether that would be applied to them as well. “You have still
not turned 60 years,” a smiling President said.
When the President announced relief to widows, a UNP parliamentarian
shouted the name of his fellow MP Vijayakala Madeshwari, wife of late
UNP MP T. Maheshwaran. “Maheshwari, Do you also need this?” the
The President proposed to increase the Mahapola Scholarship for
undergraduates from Rs. 2,500 to Rs. 4,000 by January next year.
It is also proposed to increase the Samurdhi allowance to Rs. 3,000
for a four-member family and Rs. 2,000 for a three-member family.
Most Opposition parliamentarians were stunned as the President kept
on announcing relief to every social strata and people of all walks of
Opposition leader Ranil Wickremesinghe ran away from a barrage of
questions by the media on the relief granted by the President. Instead
of answering the questions posed by the media, Ranil ran away from
television cameras, pleading media personalities to clear his path.
UNP members could not believe their eyes that the President has been
able to grant such a huge volume of relief to the working class and
massive fund allocations to important sectors such as education, health
They were shocked by the relied measures granted to all and boycotted
the traditional tea party hosted by the Speaker.
But the UNP’s boycott was unnoticed as several other Opposition MPs,
including the TNA, participated in the tea party.
President Rajapaksa was seen talking to former TNA leader and Member
of Parliament R. Sampanthan. During his Budget speech, the President
requested the TNA to join hands with government programs to serve all
the people of this country alike.
Alternate budget by dejected UNP
The UNP, shocked by the people’s-friendly Budget presented by the
President, is now making desperate attempts to present an alternate
budget. Assistant Leader of the UNP Ravi Karunanayake said last week
that the party would prepare and present its own budget to be
implemented by a future UNP Government.
However, political observers said that the UNP could include any
unrealistic pledges as the party would continue to remain in the
Opposition. “It is easy to make promises and include impossible and
unrealistic promises. This is what the UNP is doing today, knowing only
too well that they have many years left in the Opposition,” a political
observer pointed out.
However, the UNP Assistant leader told a media briefing that the UNP
would present its proposals soon. Ravi said a future UNP Government
would increase the salaries of public servants by Rs.10,000.
The UNP also offered Rs.2,500 increment for pensioners, reduction on
the price of petrol by Rs.50 a litre and diesel by Rs.15 a litre so as
to bring down transport fares by 20 per cent.
“The UNP will give farmers a guaranteed price of Rs.50 a kilo for
paddy, Rs.80 a kilo for potatoes and onions and allocate six per cent of
the GDP for higher education and 4.5 per cent for general education,” he
Ravi said a future UNP government would bring down interest rates by
2 per cent. “Our policy is to come up with realistic concessions,” he
Wimal warns of another Western conspiracy
Minister Wimal Weerawansa said last week that the Western
‘creationists’ were trying to rob Sri Lanka of crucial data related to
extra-terrestrial life to further their agenda and undermine Buddhist
teachings on the universe.
The Minister, speaking at a religious event at a temple in Hanwella
on Thursday, charged that a team of ‘white gentlemen’ from an
international space research institute had tried to seize raw material
and data related to meteor fragments that had fallen into a paddy field
At the time local scientists were still probing the meteor fragments
and had discovered unicellular organisms embedded in the alien rock,
which supports the idea that alien life exists.
“The team attempted to take hold of this valuable evidence almost
immediately after local scientists had made this vital discovery.
Why did they do this? It’s because they don’t want the world to know
that creationism is a blatant lie. When it is proved that life outside
planet earth exists, creationism would turn into a lie.
This was a fact that was initially declared and proven by the Buddha
and his teachings on the universe,” he said.
UNP MPs noticed to appear in Courts
Four UNP parliamentarians - Ravi Karunanayake, R. Yogarajan, Ajith P.
Perera and Nalin Bandara Jayamaha were noticed to appear in court
tomorrow for allegedly trespassing into Sri Lanka Nidahas Sevaka
Sangamaya premises in Colombo 2.
The complaint was lodged by the NSS after a group of UNP
Parliamentarians went on a fact finding mission at the Sri Lanka Ports
Authority (SLPA) premises on October 21.
Colombo Fort Magistrate Thilina Gamage issued the order sequel to a B
Report filed by the Slave Island Police on Thursday.
Opposition discovers its political nudity
The JVP, through an internal survey done by its infamous university
undergraduates union better known as Anthare, has discovered that the
party would fare miserably if it fields it own candidate at the next
Hence, it is making every endeavour either to discourage holding an
early election or to skip the next presidential election giving lame
The JVP last week called upon the Elections Commissioner not to
declare a snap presidential election because it was illegal and
unconstitutional to do so. “According to the 18th Amendment, which has
not been amended, the President has to complete his six-year term before
calling for any election and it is illegal to declare a presidential
election after four years in office. We wrote to the Elections
Commissioner not to hold a presidential election in a hurry,” JVP
General Secretary Tilvin Silva told the media soon after meeting the
Commissioner at his office. He said the Commissioner assured them that
he would look into the matter.
Several UNP MPs including Karu Jayasuriya and Ravi Karunanayake also
held discussions with the Elections Commissioner and requested him to
take action to prevent the recurrence of election law violations,
through the misuse of state property, the State media and State
officials for the government’s election campaign.
At a time the Government is giving ample chances for the Opposition
by holding regular elections, the UNP and the JVP seem to be making wild
allegations to evade elections, knowing that their political bankruptcy
would be further exposed.
GL clears Kshenuka
External Affairs Minister G.L. Peiris, in a statement last week,
cleared Foreign Secretary Kshenuka Seneviratne of allegations levelled
against her regarding the awarding of a contract to repair the official
residence of the Sri Lankan Ambassador in Geneva.
GL, in his statement, said that extensive publicity has been given
during the last few days to a series of allegations that the Secretary
to the Ministry of External Affairs, has been guilty of impropriety in
connection with the award of a contract for the renovation of the
official residence of the Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka in
Geneva in 2009.
The Minister said the attempt has also been made to heighten the
gravity of the allegation by the assertion that the contract was awarded
to a company, the owner of which was arrested by the Swiss Police for
“While wrongdoing should certainly not go unpunished, it is important
to ensure that officials performing their public duty in good faith are
accorded legitimate protection.
This is so, especially because they have limited opportunity to
defend themselves. Unfounded and reckless allegations are bound to have
an adverse effect on morale.
The clearest example of this is the reference, in connection with the
award of the contract, to a personality involved in activities of the
LTIE,” the statement said.
“As for the alleged role of Mrs. Seneviratne in this matter, the
sequence of events, ascertained from documents in the possession of this
Ministry, is conclusive.
The Procurement Committee approved the award of the contract on 5th
November 2009. Mrs. Seneviratne, however, arrived in Geneva and assumed
duties only on 15th November. All matters pertaining to the contract had
been finalised prior to her arrival in Geneva, and it is absolutely
clear that she had no involvement in the matter at all,” the statement
UNP jumps the gun
Many people are aware what Opposition leader Ranil Wickremesinghe had
done during his short visit to London which included a secret discussion
at a gathering with a couple of representatives of the Global Tamil
Forum, a front organisation of the now defunct LTTE.
Unconfirmed reports said that some UNP agents have done some spy work
to tarnish the image of the country in the eyes of the international
community to woo support of the LTTE rump for next presidential
But the UNP has rejected the allegation that there was an invisible
connection between the European Union General Court’s ruling to lift
sanctions on the LTTE and Ranil’s recent tour to London.
The EU General Court lifted the sanctions on the LTTE on October 16.
The LTTE had been named a terrorist organisation by the EU in 2006.
UNP MP Eran Wickremaratne said the party had nothing to hide regarding
the UNP leader’s tour of London and that the rumours were baseless.
“All the reports and rumours were being centred on photographs
circulated through the media which show our leader with several other
Sri Lankans in London.
They are the representatives of UNP London branch. We are willing to
identify each and every person in those photographs if necessary,” he
told a news conference in Sirikotha last week.
He said the people in the photographs were hard working Sri Lankans
who had left the country to work abroad in order to provide a better
life for their families back home.
Ranil daydreams again
A future UNP government would grant Rs. 10,000 salary increment to
public servants and a Rs. 2,000 increment for pensioners until anomalies
were resolved, UNP leader told a party meeting at UNP headquarters
Sirikotha in Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte last week.
Ranil said a future UNP government would come out with a bonanza for
the people. He said a future UNP government would purchase Samba paddy
at Rs. 50 a kilogramme and Nadu paddy at Rs. 45 a kilogramme. He also
said that a litre of petrol would be reduced by Rs. 50 while diesel
would be reduced by Rs. 15.
Meanwhile, UNP parliamentarian Lakshman Kiriella blamed the
Government for not engaging itself in the 2011 case filed in the General
Court of the European Union by the LTTE against its proscription. He
urged the Government to take steps to appeal against the ruling to lift
the ban on the LTTE and assured the UNP’s full support for this matter.
“When we study the case and the verdict, it is very clear that no one
was present to argue the case on behalf of the Sri Lankan Government. It
is doubtful whether the External Affairs Ministry and the Attorney
General’s Department were even aware of the existence of such a case. It
is important for the Government to engage in such matters,” Kiriella
said. Surprisingly, Kiriella did not utter a word on his UNP leader’s
recent visit to London and participating at a meeting with the LTTE
President condemns shooting
President Rajapaksa condemned last week's shooting incident in Canada
and said all should unite to fight this menace.
“It is very disturbing to see increasing terrorist acts in many
countries, now even Canada. We must unite as equal partners to fight
this menace,” the President twittered.
A Canadian soldier standing guard at a war memorial in the capital
Ottawa was shot dead on Wednesday. Gunfire also erupted inside
Parliament and authorities say at least one gunman was killed.
However, the Canadian Government said that there is no evidence so
far that a gunman who attacked Canada's parliament had links to Middle
Eastern Islamist extremists.
Foreign Minister John Baird told the BBC gunman Michael Zehaf-Bibeau
was “certainly radicalised”, but was not on a list of high-risk people.
Zehaf-Bibeau killed a soldier at Ottawa's war memorial before being
shot dead in the nearby parliament building. Police have released video
showing how the gunman stormed parliament.
It has also emerged that Prime Minister Stephen Harper hid in a
cupboard in parliament for about 15 minutes during Wednesday's attack as
MPs sharpened flagpoles to use as spears against the gunman.