Connect with us

News

Crisis did not come about due to COVID-19 pandemic, but because of ill-advised policies of Govt. says Champika 

Published

on

By Saman Indrajith

The SJB, on Thursday, raised questions over the government‘s use of funds for the period between April and August this year without the authorisation of Parliament.

 Participating in the debate on Vote on Account, SJB Colombo District MP Champika Ranawaka said: “The Treasury Secretary issued a circular dated March 10, 2020, that the President had authorised the utilisation of funds under Article 150 (3) of the Constitution, only Parliament has the power to approve a Vote on Account.” But the SJB’s stance was that Article 150 (3) only gave powers to the President to draw funds from the Consolidated Fund for public expenses for three months from that date to the inauguration of a new Parliament.

“It does not grant him powers to draw funds or approve a VoA from the date of dissolving Parliament. The Prime Minister must clarify this in his capacity as the Finance Minister. We hope he will provide Parliament with a detailed account on State revenue during the past eight months of this year, how revenue from various taxes came to the government and the government’s recurrent expenditure before the end of the debate.”

 Ranawaka said 2020 would go down as a significant year in the country’s history as there was no budget.

“A similar situation arose in 2015. This was just after a presidential election and with a general election also coming. However, the then government discussed with all parties concerned and still managed to present a Budget. This government, however, though it came to power in November last year could not present a budget this year. It relied on a Vote on Account passed by the previous government which approved funds up to April 30 this year. We now have another Vote on Account for funds from September 1 to December 31,” he said.

Opening the debate on the Vote on Account for the Opposition, the SJB MP said that the country’s present fiscal crisis had not come about due to the COVID-19 pandemic but because of the ill-advised economic and tax policies of the government.

 He said the government’s tax policies implemented from December 1, 2019 had had a disastrous impact on the state revenue. Due to those policies, annual state revenue, which had been near Rs 2,000 billion during the previous government, had plummeted to about Rs 1,000 billion since last December, he said.

“The state revenue this year will be about Rs 1,100 billion, whereas the interest on loans alone is about Rs 1 trillion (Rs 1000 billion). As such, this is the first time that the country’s revenue is only enough to pay off the interest on the country’s loans,” he said.

Ranawaka pointed out that before the pandemic forced the country into lockdown, the economic growth rate during the first three months of 2020, had been –1.6%. “That was the government’s report card before COVID-19. According to the Asian Development Bank’s forecast, the economy is due to contract by 0.6% this year. The government can’t hide behind COVID-19 and claim all problems are due to it. The fact remains that the economy was in severe distress long before the pandemic came around.”

MP Ranawaka also alleged that the USD 7.2 billion foreign reserves which the previous government’s Central Bank Governor managed to build up were now being used to pay off foreign loans. He also lambasted the protectionist economic policy of the government and said that issuing a blanket ban on imports was only going to further worsen an already difficult situation. “You can’t develop local industries in this manner,” he said.

 

 



Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

News

UNDP: Rs 600 bn tax cut a huge mistake

Published

on

Director of the Sustainable Finance Hub of the UNDP Marcos Neto has called the decision to do away with a range of taxes here a fundamental mistake committed by Sri Lanka.The comment was made at the Parliament complex during an interactive dialogue on ‘Revenue Generation as a Pathway to Sri Lanka’s Economic Recovery’ on Tuesday (09). It was organised on a request by Anura Priyadarshana Yapa, former Chairman of the Committee on Public Finance to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The Opposition as well as several other parties alleged that the government had lost as much as Rs 600 bn due to the controversial decision to do away with a range of taxes including PAYE, NBT (Nation Building Tax), Withholding tax, Capital Gain tax imposed on the Colombo Stock Exchange, Bank Debit tax and unprecedented reduction of VAT (Value Added Tax). The 15% VAT and the 2% NBT which amounted to 17% imposed on all goods and services were unified and reduced to 8%, effective from the first of December 2019.

The decision was taken at the first Cabinet meeting of the Gotabaya Rajapaksa government on 27 Nov. 2019.Governor of the Central Bank Dr. Nandalal Weerasinghe is on record as having said that the powers that be ignored the IMF warning not to do so and also the immediate need to restructure Sri Lanka’s debt (SF)

Continue Reading

News

Debate on power tariff hike on 29 Aug.

Published

on

Party leaders have decided to debate the electricity tariff hikes in parliament on 29 August.The date was fixed for the debate following a request by the main opposition SJB.The debate will be held from 9.30 am to 4.30 pm on 29 August.

Chief Opposition Whip Kandy District MP Lakshman Kiriella told Parliament on Wednesday (10) that as per the proposed tariff hike the monthly electricity bill of domestic consumers would increase by 75 percent to 125 percent. “This is unbearable. This is like sending the people to an electric chair while they are struggling to make ends meet amidst a massive increase in cost of living.

How does this government expect people would be able to pay such an exorbitant price for electricity? We demand a debate in parliament before this proposed tariff hike is implemented,” Kiriella said.

Continue Reading

News

British national to be deported

Published

on

By Rathindra Kuruwita

The Department of Immigration and Emigration has ordered Kayleigh Fraser, a British national whose passport has been taken into custody after she posted on social media anti-government protests, for violating her visa conditions, to leave the country by 15 August. The Department has already cancelled her visa.

Earlier this month Immigration and Emigration officials visited Fraser at her home and took her passport into custody. The Department said Fraser had been in Sri Lanka for medical reasons since 2019. She had returned home several times, it said.

The Immigration and Emigration officers told her to visit them within the next seven days.Fraser on 02 August said that a group of immigration officers had visited her and asked for her travel document. She said that officials told her that they would return her passport when she visited the Department of Immigration and Emigration.

Fraser added that she had received an anonymous call asking her to leave Sri Lanka as soon as possible before facing ‘big problems.’ Immigration officials visited her house a few days after the call.

Fraser has shared a number of photographs and videos from the ‘Gota Go Gama’ site. Human Rights groups and activists have accused the Sri Lankan government of using Emergency regulations to harass and arbitrarily detain activists seeking political reform and accountability for the country’s economic crisis.

Continue Reading

Trending