President Rajapaksa as Minister of Finance presented the first budget in his second term as the Executive President, making proposals giving a major impetus to value addition of local industrial products, to improve export earnings while granting a wide range of concessions, increasing outsourcing facilities in Sri Lanka for foreign business enterprises.
Thus the President, the quintessential and veteran leader embarked on the journey to make Sri Lanka “Asia’s Miracle”. The President along with the budget which will pave the way for the country achieve the development goals, while granting relief to the public, arrived in Parliament this afternoon. Thereafter he began making his budget speech to a wide applause of the Parliamentarians.
The people have placed their full trust to take the country for a more bight future. What they need is a good standard of living, a clean environment and a prosperous future for their children. The President emphasized that he would nopt hesitate to dedicate himself to meet their desires. He pointed that he was presenting the 2011 budget with that determination in mind.
The President announced that that the per capita income will be increased up to 4000 US Dollars. The import tax of passenger transport vehicles will be reduced up to 25 percent. Telephone call charges reduced to 1.50 from 2 rupees per minute. The President proposed a 100,000 rupee grant to every third child born to a soldier. The allocation made in this respect is three billion rupees. 200 million rupees is set aside to implement the “Mathata Thitha” Programme in every village. The tax on liquor, cigarettes and Casinos has been upped from 35 to 40 percent. 1000 Schools with tertiary facilities will be established to prevent malpractices in the distribution of resources within the schools. A 5% monthly allowance increase as a non pensionable allowance will be provided for all public servants and security personnel. A 600 rupee increase in cost of living allowance from January to all public servants and security personnel in staff category was announced. The allowance for the staff grade will be effective from July. Pensions have been increased by 600 rupees from January. The pension of those who retired before 2003 January will be increased by 750 rupees while those who retired from 2003 to 2006 will get an increment of 250. Accordingly, about 450,000 pensioners will benefit from the increase from next year.
The Presidnt revealed that 10,000 graduates will be given employment in Engineering, Planning, and Agriculture and other sectors, while 1500 graduates will be taken as management trainees for state banks and financial institutions. The President announced that attention has been focused on the recruitment of 1500 nurses for hospitals coming under the Defence Ministry. The tax system has been simplified by the budget. The Customs tax structure has been brought under four categories. The Nation Building Tax has been reduced from three to two percent. The Social Security Tax, the Rural Infrastructure Development Tax and the Debit Tax have been removed. The Ceylon Electricity Board, the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation, the National Water Supply and Drainage Boardand the Sri Lanka Ports Authority are exmept from income tax for a period of five years.
Several amendments were proposed for electricity rates. Accordingly the rate for places of religious worship, Government Hospitals, Schools, Vocational Training Centres and Universities has been reduced by 25 percent. The system for Small and Medium Scale enterprises will remain as it is. It has been proposed to increase the power rates by eight percent other than the first 90 Units. A Presidential Commission will be appointed to make proposals for Banks and other Financial Services. The Debit tax imposed on withdrawals from Bank is exempted. It is proposed to launch a National Sports Development Fund. 50 million rupees has been set aside as grant for electronic equipment for journalists. VAT on computers has been removed. Materials imported for the manufacture of textiles, garments, leather goods, footwear and baggages are also exempted from VAT.
600 million rupees was proposed to transform the Peradeniya, Moratuwa, Colombo, Sri Jayawardanapura, Kelaniya and Ruhuna Universities to become world class Universities in their chosen fields. A Presidential Awards Scheme to acclaim University Researchers has been proposed. Pharmaceutical imports are to be exempt from Port and Airport Levy to reduce the cost of medicine.
Sri Lankan Airlines and Mihin Lanka will be expanded with new aircraft to increase the fleet to 30 by 2012. Sri Lankan and Mihin Lanka will be exempt from all taxes for a period of 10 years to strengthen the two enterprises.
The President proposed a Cabinet Sub Committee to make proposals to simplify all administrative strategies. The diplomatic service will be expanded to attract more investment and trade facilities to the country. The withdrawal of EPF after reaching retirement age is exempt from tax. A new Employees Pension Fund for all public and private sector employees has also been proposed in addition to a pension fund for migrant workers. An initial grant of one billion rupees will be set aside for this purpose. The Budget contained several proposals to ensure a house for every family. 76 old Housing Schemes will be developed. An Urban Development Fund will be set up. Special parking slots will be allocated for three-wheelers and taxies in urban areas.
Special relief is granted to all sectors in the Plantation field. The fertilizer subsidy will be continued. The President proposed that all lands of Plantation Firms which had so far not been cultivated will be dished out to small-scale plantation sectors. 19 Seed Farmers will be developed. Every village will be developed.
25,000 small scale irrigation Schemes will be developed and the allocation made in this respect is 900 million rupees. Dairy farmers will be strengthened and the price paid for a litre of fresh milk has been increased to 50 rupees. Work of the second stage of the “Ranminitenne” Tele Village will be launched. A Performing Arts Theatre of international standard will be established in Colombo. A Cultural Centre will be built in the North with Indian assistance. Government will give 100 million rupees as an initial capital to encourage artistes. All expectant mothers will get Triposha and it will be extended to pre schools in village areas.
One billion rupees has been allocated to enhance the monthly income of the old, handicapped and those impacted by terrorist activities. Leasing for three wheelers, lorries and buses are exempt from VAT. Its spare parts are also exempt from Customs duty. Special loan facilities will be provided from the People’s Bank for self employment and also a Secretariat will be launched to promote Self Employment. All Weekly Fairs will be modernized and a special programme will be mooted to strengthen the rural economy under the “Gama Neguma” Scheme. One million home gardens are planned with the purpose of mooting a National Food Productive process. There is a plan to clear the backlog of cases within three years as it leads to poverty. The Lak Sathosa and Coop City Network will be expanded and these will be exempt from all taxes. State-owned bungalows will be revamped to market for foreign tourists. Taxes on uncut gems removed.
Low income earners are to receive food security cards. 200 million rupees is allocated for Tri-language training programmes for public servants. The President said the Graduate School of Aviation will be expanded to train pilots and related services.