Budget guarantees economic resurgence
The maiden Budget of the National Unity Government presented by
Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake on November 20 called for key
structural changes in the traditional budget, taking the country forward
on an innovation- driven social market economy. Budget 2016 has
instituted necessary legislative and regulatory framework to put this
far-sighted vision into implementation.
The 70th Budget of the country, presented by Minister Karunanayake,
will go down the annals of Sri Lankan legislative history as the maiden
Budget presented by the first-ever national government of
post-independent Sri Lanka to herald a new beginning for the country and
to create a new economic and social order for the people.
Yet, another significance of the Budget was that it would go down in
parliamentary history as being one of the most lengthy budget speeches
delivered by a Finance Minister, which lasted nearly four and a half
hours. However, the four and a half hour timeframe was also insufficient
for the Minister to read out the full text of the Budget speech and he
tabled some of the proposals without even reading them.
The presentation of the Budget was a historic occasion in parliament
as the two main parties, the UNP and the SLFP which had previously
presented separate budgets when they were in power, agreed to present a
budget under a consensual government.
Commencing his budget speech, Minister Karunanayake outlined how
effective the leadership and guidance of President Maithripala Sirisena
and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe provided the ideal formula to
generate a budget seeking excellence on all fronts. The Budget was a
continuation of the positive aspects of the interim budget presented by
the Government on January 29 this year, to delivering further dividends
through the adoption of prudent and cohesive economic policies.
It was after a long lapse that there was a complete change in the
Budget which contained a comprehensive economic policy to transform the
socio-economic and political fabric as articulated by Prime Minister
Ranil Wickremesinghe in his Policy Statement in Parliament two weeks
It was obvious the Budget was based on the policy statement delivered
by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on November 5. Karunanayake
stressed the need for economic reform to change the negative impact of
the former UPFA government by rectifying economic and foreign policy
failure. He alleged the economic policies of the previous regime were
fundamentally flawed while mounting debt was about to take control of
Minister Karunanayake told the House that the derogatory 'hubs of
crony capitalism' had disintegrated forever while the fearsome 'white
van syndrome' had been extinguished and the 'most detestable family
He drew the attention of the House that today the average people of
Sri Lanka were not only enjoying the fruits of economic dividends but
also democratic freedom which was under a cloud during the previous
regime. The Minister noted the era from 2005 to 2014 would go down in
history as an era where the expectations of the people were at a zenith
but where the delivery was below par.
Good governance and transparency
The Minister in his concluding remarks said the budget speech of the
consensual unity government of Sri Lanka has revealed a new dimension in
the national economic policy within the framework of good governance and
He noted that the government's objectives were based on futuristic
policies to create an Upper Middle income economy guaranteeing economic
resurgence thus upgrading Sri Lanka to a higher plateau. After the
Minister concluded his Budget speech, Speaker Karu Jayasuriya invited
Government and Opposition members for the traditional tea party which
was held under the patronage of President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime
Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.
The Second Reading on the Appropriation Bill commenced on November 21
and will continue until December 2 (nine allotted days). The vote on the
Second Reading will take place on December 2 at 5.00pm. The committee
stage debate will commence on December 3 and continue until December 19
(15 allotted days). The vote on the Third Reading will be taken on
December 19 at 5pm.