Budget to focus on the youth, women and development - Eran
January 10, 2019 05:04 pm
State Minister of Finance Eran Wickramaratne today revealed that Sri Lanka’s youth, women and development will be “very much in focus” in the upcoming budget proposal of the government.
“In the budget, while we are going on the road of ‘Responsible Financial Management’ we are also basically continuing to invest on our development programmes,” he said speaking to reporters at the parliament complex.
He stated that the focuses for the development programme will be ‘Gamperaliya’ to strengthen the village economy and ‘Enterprise Sri Lanka’ to strengthen local industries.
He said that following the “political coup” the former government came in disrupted and stopped the Gamperaliya programme while the incumbent in its first Cabinet meeting approved to recommence it and the pogramme is going forward.
He said that ‘Enterprise Sri Lanka’ will also continue and will be accelerated. “We also have a focus on the youth and we are going to focus on it more and more,” he said.
“Every child is important, every student is important in our philosophy.” The state minister said that the government is going to give opportunities for students who failed to enter universities to receive higher education. “Those measures will be announced in the budget.”
He also said that the government is going to invest in improving public transport in the country.
“Youth, women and development are very much in focus in the coming budget.”
Wickramaratne also expressed views regarding the cost of the “political coup” in October last year.
“I think those who were responsible for the political coup must be held responsible,” he said.
The state minister said that while those who misbehaved in Parliament should anyway be punished for breaking the law and damaging public property, however the biggest issue was the economic cost.
“The real negative in this was really the cost,” he said, adding that the financial cost was around Rs 21 billion estimated and that’s just on interest cost.
“I think the cost to the tourism industry was in excess of US$ 250 million. We still don’t know the total. It may be much higher than even US$ 250 million. Just a cost of this political coup. There are obviously other costs that you can’t really estimate.
He also said that Sri Lanka lost a billion dollars of reserves.
“Because the highest reserves we had was in April last year, which was more than US$ 9 billion. It was 7.9 billion in October and then it has dropped by about a billion dollars. So the cost is huge. The confidence, foreign direct investment, delays in investment and various things like that.”
But the challenge was really paying the debt, he said. “Because in Sri Lanka’s history, the largest debt payments are actually in this year.”
However, the state minister stressed that he could say emphatically that the government of Sri Lanka will be meeting all of its debt obligations including the debt obligations in January.
“We have never defaulted on debt and we will never default on debt.”