BY Pamodi Waravita
The 76th Budget reading for the financial year (FY) 2022 will begin in Parliament today (12) at 2 p.m., with a focus on transforming Sri Lanka into a manufacturing-based economy.
“The Budget aims to utilise Sri Lanka’s geopolitical location and address the ongoing loss of foreign income to the country, whilst planning on how to successfully face the post-Covid-19 situation in the country,” a press release from the Ministry of Finance said yesterday (11).
Accordingly, the second reading of the Budget debate will take place from tomorrow (13) whilst 22 November will be the date of the vote on the second reading.
The third reading will take place from 23 November onwards for 16 days, following which the final vote will take place on 10 December.
The Parliament stated that this year’s Budget debate will also be presented in sign language on behalf of the hearing impaired community and thus, a sign language window will be telecast simultaneously with the live telecast during the Budget debate.
When questioned about the upcoming Budget earlier this month, Minister of Finance Basil Rajapaksa said that this year’s Budget will be unable to provide increased welfare to the people, adding: “We won’t be able to give, only take.”
The Appropriation Bill for FY2022 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 being reduced when compared to FY2021.
The Appropriation Bill notes that the total expenditure of the Government allocated for the year 2022, including for both recurrent and capital expenditure, has decreased by Rs. 33 billion compared to the 2021 fiscal year. Thus, the total expenditure for 2022 is estimated at Rs. 2,505.3 billion (Rs. 2.5 trillion).
The Ministry of Defence has been allocated Rs. 373.1 billion for the year 2022, a Rs. 18 billion increase from the fiscal year 2021, making it the highest-allocated sector. Following the Ministry of Defence, the Ministry of Public Services, Provincial Councils (PCs), and Local Government (LG) has been allocated the second-highest expenditure of Rs. 286.7 billion. The Ministry of Highways has been allocated Rs. 250.1 billion, while the Ministry of Education has been allocated Rs. 185.9 billion for the year 2022, which is a Rs. 28 billion increase from the fiscal year 2021, but still below the amount allocated to the Ministry of Highways, which was the case last year as well.
Despite the pandemic, the Ministry of Health has been allocated Rs. 6 billion less for the year 2022, in comparison to the fiscal year 2021. Thus, the Bill has allocated Rs. 153.5 billion for the Ministry for the year 2022.
Meanwhile, the President’s expenditure has been decreased by Rs. 6.6 billion for the year 2022, at Rs. 2.78 billion.