‘Public gallery won’t be opened during debate’
Traditional tea party to follow budget
Minister of Finance Basil Rajapaksa will present the second reading of the Appropriation Bill for the financial year 2022 in Parliament today (12). The budget speech will begin at 02.00 pm. This is the 76th budget since independence from Britain.
The Bill was presented to Parliament by the Minister of Finance on the 07 October.
The Appropriation Bill was published in the Gazette on 29 September 2021 for matters relating to obtaining service expenses for the financial year 2022 from the Consolidated Fund or any other suitable fund with provisions and obtaining loans within or outside Sri Lanka.
Accordingly, for service expenses during the period from 1st January 2022 to 31st December 2022, approval is to be obtained for recurrent and capital expenditure related to Government Expenditure amounting to rupees two thousand five hundred and five billion three hundred and forty-six million five hundred and fifty-eight thousand.
Chapter xvii of the Constitution gives Parliament full control over public finances and requires the approval of Parliament on matters including taxation, consolidation of funds or any other appropriate fund with provisions.
The second reading debate of the budget will be held for seven days from Saturday, November 13th to Monday, November 22nd. The vote on the second reading of the budget will take place on Monday, November 22 at 5.00 pm. The Committee Stage Debate will commence on Tuesday, November 23rd and will continue for 16 days, including Saturday, until Friday, December 10th. The third reading vote will be held on December 10th at 5.00 pm.
Arrangements have been made to present this year’s budget debate in sign language for the benefit of hearing-impaired community. Accordingly, a Sign Language Window will be telecast simultaneously with the live telecast during the budget debate.
Secretary General of Parliament Dhammika Dasanayake said that arrangements had been made to hold sittings in Parliament in accordance with all health guidelines and regulations during the entire period of the budget debate starting today (12), the presenting of the budget statement to Parliament.
The Public Gallery will not be open to the public during the budget debate and only a limited number of government officials will be allowed to attend the Budget Committee session.
The Gallery for Special Guests, invited diplomats, Ambassadors and High Commissioners will be opened tomorrow.
The budget being presented today is the second budget of the Government of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the seventh Executive President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. Following the budget speech, the Minister of Finance will host the traditional tea party. However, it will be limited to MPs, ministers, foreign ambassadors and invitees.
Overtime gravy train for public sector back
Govt. MPs make contradictory statements on state of economy
By Shamindra Ferdinando
UNP National List MP Wajira Abeywardena on Sunday (26) disclosed the issuance of a circular by the Finance Ministry to restore overtime and other payments in the public sector.
The declaration was made in Galle soon after Transport and Media Minister Bandula Gunawardane lamented that the government was short of billions of rupees to pay public sector salaries, pensions, Samurdhi payments and meet recurrent expenditure.
Minister Gunawardena and UNP National List MP Abeywardena addressed the local media after the handing over of several buses to the Galle SLTB depot.
Cabinet Spokesman Gunawardena said that the government needed as much as Rs 196 bn before the Sinhala and Tamil New Year and its projected revenue was Rs 173 bn. In addition to that Rs 500 mn was required to settle what Minister Gunawardena called bilateral debt.
Minister Gunawardane said that a part of the first tranche of USD 333 mn from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) would be utilised to pay public sector salaries.
Of the USD 333 mn received so far, USD 121 had been used to pay the first installment of USD 1 bn credit line secured from India early last year, according to State Finance Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya.
Power and Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekera in the second week of August last year revealed as much as Rs 3 bn had been paid as overtime to Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) workers for several months. This disclosure was made in response to a query raised by Chief Opposition Whip Lakshman Kiriella.
One of the major demands of the public sector trade unions on the warpath over the Wickremesinghe-Rajapaksa government’s new tax formula is the restoration of overtime.
Now, Opposition wants Finance Secy. hauled up before Privileges Committee
Prof. G. L. Peiris yesterday (27) urged Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena to act speedily on the main Opposition Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) request to summon Finance Secretary Mahinda Siriwardena before the parliamentary Committee on Ethics and Privileges.
Addressing the media on behalf of the Freedom People’s Alliance, the former External Affairs Minister said that the Treasury Secretary had challenged the parliament by withholding funds allocated in the budget 2023 to the Election Commission thereby sabotaging the election.
Prof. Peiris said that there couldn’t be a far worse violation of parliamentary privileges than a government official undermining Parliament.
Instead of appreciating the intervention made by the Supreme Court to facilitate the delayed Local Government polls, the ruling party had sought to challenge the apex court, Prof. Peiris said, urging Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena to fulfill his obligations.
Prof. Pieris said that if the government lacked funds, just one percent of USS 333 mn received from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was sufficient to conduct the election.
The ex-minister said that the IMF wouldn’t oppose the utilisation of a fraction of the first tranche of USD 2.9 bn loan facility provided over a period of four years to guarantee the constitutional rights of the Sri Lankan electorate. (SF)
Cabinet nod for fuel distribution by three foreign companies
By Rathindra Kuruwita
Minister of Power and Energy Kanchana Wijesekera announced yesterday that the Cabinet of Ministers has granted approval for allowing China’s Sinopec, Australia’s United Petroleum and RM Parks of the USA, in collaboration with multinational Oil and Gas Company – Shell plc, to enter the fuel retail market in Sri Lanka.
The minister said that each of the three companies would be given 150 dealer operated fuel stations, which are currently operated by Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC). A further 50 fuel stations at new locations will be established by each selected company, he said.
They will be granted licences to operate for 20 years to import, store, distribute and sell petroleum products in Sri Lanka, the minister tweeted.
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