Income re-distributed among people – Finance Minister Ravi
A cross section of the Government and Opposition Parliamentarians
interviewed by the Sunday Observer described the interim Budget
presented by Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake as people- friendly and
easing the burden of the high cost of living with concessions on a
number of essential food items.
Deputy Economic Development and Policy Implementation Minister Dr.
Harsha de Silva:
This is the best budget presented after a long time. The significance
is that we gave to the people everything that we promised in our 100-Day
Program. We have reduced the prices of essential food items and
increased the salaries of the public sector employees. What more do the
people want? We have also asked the private sector to help the national
program by increasing the salaries by at least Rs. 2,500.
This is a
great budget and we hope to score a massive victory at the next
election. This is our own budget and we have our development plans. We
will implement our medium and long-term plans.
UPFA General Secretary MP Susil Premajayantha
The interim budget is ideal for hundred days. But when compared both
long term economic development and capital investment, the recurrent
expenditure is higher than the capital expenditure. The question is how
this trend will continue in this manner. If this trend continues, the
Government will have to definitely increase its revenue through various
avenues. A barrel of oil which was US$ 110 in the World Market was
drastically dropped to below US$ 50 during the past three months.
Therefore, whatever Government in power can give this fuel concession to
the people today.
The previous budget had allocated lot of money for
capital investment such as Deyata Kirula and other development projects.
When such expenditure is pruned, lot of money can be saved. If the money
for capital investment is saved, it can be used for recurrent
expenditure which would not generate any income.
Social Service and Social Welfare Minister P. Harrison
People could realise the Government has curtailed the huge funds
allocated for the Financial Head of the former President and distribute
it among the people. This is the first time that this type of thing
happened in our country. The former President has spent over Rs. 25
million per day. At present all those Financial Heads have been
curtailed and distributed among over 20 million people in this country.
Only Rs. 6,000 was spent for the swearing-in ceremony of President
Maithripala Sirisena. But millions of rupees were spent on various
ceremonies and functions of the former President. This budget has
stopped all those unnecessary expenditure and the money has been given
to the people. This is only the beginning. This budget would give more
concessions to the people in the near future. Therefore, the Government
will not confine it to 100 days. I have no doubt that the people would
try to keep this Government in power.
Deputy Road and Investment Development Minister Eran Wickramaratne
This was the maiden budget presented by the President Maithripala
Sirisena Government. As promised in the 100-Day Program, Finance
Minister Ravi Karunanayake presented these proposals in the Parliament.
The 100-Day program is centered around the ordinary masses. We hope
to formulate an economic strategy to cater to 99 percent people in the
country - not one percent. As we pledged, the salaries of public sector
employees were increased by Rs. 5000 from next month.
Not only that, we also call upon the private sector to increase the
salaries of their employees at least by Rs. 2500. Now the time has come
to distribute the profits earned by the Government among the people.
This is our economic vision. We also brought down the fuel prices two
weeks ago. In addition, the budget further reduced the price of a litre
of kerosene oil by another Rs. 6. The prices of gas was also brought
down by Rs. 300. As promised, the Government also reduced the prices of
13 essential food items. Sometimes the people may wonder how we are
going to fill this budgetary gap. Actually the Government can fill this
gap. Our President is a perfect example of that. The President's
Financial Head was reduced from Rs. 9 billion to Rs. 2.5 billion. Over
thousands of vehicles have been used by the former President. All these
vehicles will be sold by public auction. The Government has also taken a
decision not to allow any politician or Government official to import a
new vehicle this year. Therefore, the budget has given every possible
relief to the people by checking fraud and corruption.
Health and Indigenous Medicine Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne
This budget is a people friendly budget. I think this budget has
given the most relief measures after independence. All these relief
measures were given as promised in our 100-Day Program. This budget has
not imposed any taxes on the people. We have taxed only from the
compradore capitalist class. It is a clear indication that this is a
very progressive and people friendly budget. My old Leftist friends,
always advocated that they didn't join us because our economic policies
would be liberal.
Now they know the liberal policies are with whom. Actually it was
with former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and the Rajapaksa clan and not
with us. So I call upon them to join hands with us in this progressive
event. We will always hold in esteem the people who brought us to power,
because we had only the people's power. Millions of innocent people
brought us to power. We will be guided by them and we will implement all
those promises that we gave them during the election period.
Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake
People had high expectations whether we would walk the talk. Today
the opportunity has been given to us and we were able to redistribute
the income generation back to 80 to 85 percent of the people without
putting any burden on the poor.
My only concern was that the economy is
far greater shamble than what we thought.
But only good thing is that it can be resurrected and we can make
that difference. I call upon the people to accept this as a golden
opportunity to move forward.
Asia is moving and the Sri Lanka is struck
in the market. Now is the time for us to work together and gather the
strength of the Asians and industries of Sri Lanka to put together and
make Sri Lanka move forward.
MEP Leader MP Dinesh Gunawardena
The budget has given some concessions on essential food commodities.
But the rest of the project is adding only little features to the
budget. The former President enjoyed many portfolios and functions. The
incumbent President doesn't enjoy even one fourth of what the former
President's office had.
UPFA Matara District Parliamentarian Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena
We have been producing black gram and we are self-sufficient in them.
Now the Government has proposed to reduce the import duty and the prices
which means the farmers will not go for black gram cultivation.
green gram is also faced the same rate. We have produced whatever we
wanted in our country itself during the last two harvesting seasons. Now
the Government is getting ready to reduce the import duty and the price.
They are also going to reduce the price of milk foods. At the same time,
they have increased the price of milk by Rs. 10.