Basil says Budget will ‘take’ from people, not give
BY Buddhika SamaraweeraPresident’s Secretary Dr. P.B. Jayasundera yesterday (2) told the media that a budget proposal with a new vision and programme that goes beyond the traditional budget proposals will be presented this year, for the 2022 financial year. Revealing that the areas of green economy, renewable energy, information technology (IT), and digital governance would be given priority in the 2022 budget proposals, he pointed out that special attention has been paid to increase the country’s income by working within the “Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour” policy statement. Dr. Jayasundera was speaking to the media at the Presidential Media Centre yesterday. The media briefing, which was also attended by the Finance Ministry and Treasury Secretary S.R. Attygalle, had been organised under the theme “Future Budget and the Economic Situation of the Country”.Speaking further, he said: “The production volume of goods and services should be increased to generate income for the country. Therefore, revenue policies that can increase the volume of such will be included in this Budget. The rural agrarian economy should be enhanced and the development of infrastructure for that has been identified as a priority.” Pointing out that an attractive country should be created for local business folk, new investors, as well as tourists, he said that new investment opportunities would be created by doing so. “Many in the region are looking at our country to take advantage of the geographical location. Their economic revival requires alternative centres, and that economic revival will not take place in the existing economic process, but in the areas of green economy, renewable energy, IT, and digital governance.” Meanwhile, Attygalle said that with the normalisation of the country, economic growth is expected. Further emphasising that continuing to widen the budget deficit is not in the best interest of the country, he said that the forthcoming Budget will focus on reducing that gap.With regard to the 2022 Budget, Minister of Finance Basil Rajapaksa said that the “surprise” would be that the Government would be “taking” from the people instead of “giving” to the people.The Finance Minister made this statement to the media on Monday (1). “The 2022 Budget is a secret. The people will not gain anything. Instead, we will be taking from them,” said Rajapaksa. Rajapaksa made these statements after attending a court case yesterday which was filed against him by Thirukumar Nadesan regarding a property which was allegedly bought and built for themselves using public funds. The Appropriation Bill for the 2022 financial year was presented in Parliament on 7 October, with budget allocations for the education, defence, and finance sectors being increased whilst that of the health sector was reduced when compared to the 2021 financial year. The debate on the Budget 2022 will take place from 12 November to 10 December.