- Highest allocation of Rs. 393 b given to Defence
- Education Ministry Rs. 105 b, Health Ministry Rs. 187 b, Agri Rs. 114 b
- President’s Office given Rs. 14 b, higher by Rs. 3 b than 2018
- PM Office Rs. 2 b but National Policies Ministry allocation increased from Rs. 89 b to Rs.95 b
- Parliament approval sought to raise Rs. 4.5 trillion, budget deficit to be 3.5%
By Ashwin Hemmathagama – Our Lobby Correspondent
The Government moved the Appropriation Bill 2019 yesterday in Parliament, seeking House approval to raise and spend Rs. 4.47 trillion during the year. The motion seeks permission to meet capital as well as recurrent expenses of the Government, setting the borrowings limit at Rs. 2.16 trillion. The highest recurrent allocation of Rs. 393 billion is for the Ministry of Defence and the lowest of Rs. 185 million to the Non-Cabinet Ministry of Public Distribution and Economic Reforms. The Ministry of Education will receive Rs. 105 billion. The Highways and Road Development and Petroleum Resources Development Ministry has been allocated Rs. 176 billion, Health Ministry Rs. 187 billion, Agriculture Ministry Rs. 114 billion, Education Ministry Rs. 105 billion, Public Administration and Disaster Management Rs.263 billion, Provincial Councils and Local Government Ministry Rs. 292 billion, Megapolis and Western Development Ministry Rs. 50 billion and City Planning and Water Supply Rs. 127 billion.
The President’s Office has been given Rs. 14 billion, which is Rs. 3 billion higher than in 2018. The Prime Minister’s Office has remained the same, given an allocation of Rs. 2 billion, but the allocation for National Policies and Economic Affairs Ministry has been given a significant hike from Rs. 25 billion in 2018 to Rs. 98 billion in the latest Appropriation Bill. The Finance and Media Ministry was given Rs. 89 billion, which is a reduction from Rs. 95 billion from last year.
Accordingly, this year’s annual State expenditure will be Rs. 4.5 trillion and State revenue Rs. 2.4 trillion. State revenue which was 11.5% of GDP in 2014 has gradually increased after the Coalition Government came into power and is expected to be raised to 15.12% of GDP in 2019.
The National Budget for 2019 will be prepared under the Medium Term Fiscal Framework (MTFF) by adopting the performance-based budgeting approach with the aim of strengthening the ongoing fiscal consolidation programs, the statement added. The Government is also aiming to achieve the target of increasing State revenue to 17% and limiting recurrent expenditure to 15% of GDP by 2021.
Finance Minister Samaraweera’s second Budget will have some ambitious targets including maintaining the debt to GDP ratio to just 70% and limiting recurrent expenditure to 15% of GDP. Capital expenditure will also be limited to only 3.5% of GDP.
Sri Lanka’s debt to GDP ratios are likely to be closer to 80% as the Government will have to borrow to repay about $ 2.9 billion in 2019. Ratings agencies had earlier indicated that Sri Lanka’s debt to GDP ratios will remain higher than its peers in the short term as high debt repayments are likely to continue till 2022. Currently Sri Lanka’s debt to GDP is about 78%, according to the Central Bank.
The Appropriation Bill will be presented to Parliament by Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera on 5 February and the Budget will be presented on 5 March. After the third reading the Budget vote will be taken on 4 April.
The Appropriation Bill 2019, gazetted on 11 January to provide for the service of the financial year 2019, seeks passage to authorise the raising of loans in or outside Sri Lanka, for the purpose of such service; to make financial provision in respect of certain activities of the Government during that financial year; to enable the payment by way of advances out of the Consolidated Fund or any other fund or monies of or at the disposal of the Government, of monies required during that financial year for expenditure on such activities; to provide for the refund of such monies to the Consolidated Fund and to make provision for matters connected therewith.