- With Presidential Elections expected Govt. will not present Budget
- PM says focus on maintaining primary account surplus
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday confirmed to Parliament the Government will not follow the traditional Budget program but will present a Vote on Account (VoA) that will cover expenses in 2020.
Responding to a question for oral answer, the Prime Minister held instead of the three month-long traditional Budget program, a VoA will be used to cover the expenses of 2020. “Cabinet has decided not to move Budget 2020 this year.
It was a tradition that a Budget will not be held in the months of November and December when Presidential Elections are held,” he said.
According to PM Wickremesinghe, moving a VoA will not affect Government revenue generation plans and meeting essential expenses. “All expenses will be born as per the allocations made under the Appropriation Bill 2019 passed in Parliament. We will shoulder the expenses till the end of this year as per the Appropriation Bill approved already. Also, the money approved by a VoA will be spent according to the Government circulars and regulations. But it will not have any new projects and programs,” he explained.
“We can’t make use of the money passed through a VoA for election activities. Now that there is an Elections Commission established, they can investigate any wrongdoing. In 1988, the Parliamentary Election was conducted immediately after the Presidential Election came to an end. In 1999, the Budget was held soon after the Presidential Election and went for a Parliamentary Election,” he added.
Elaborating on the status of the economy after Easter Sunday attacks, the Prime Minister said: “Our income is gradually increasing. However, as a Government our aim is to maintain a primary surplus. Last year we did it and we are trying to do the same this year. We want to increase the primary surplus next year even further. Hence, we cannot increase the spending as then we would not be able to meet our goal. By controlling our expenses, we will be able to prevent a negative deficit and maintain a positive surplus.” (AH)