UNP MP and consultant economist Dr. Harsha de Silva yesterday in Parliament challenged the accuracy of President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s claim of drastic reduction in poverty in his Budget 2011 presented on Monday.
Rajapaksa said poverty rate had declined to 7.6% at present from 15.2% in 2006/7.
However Dr. de Silva speaking during the debate on the Budget yesterday said he did access certain public documents to verify this figure stated by the President.
“This has been calculated according to a survey on a sample of 5289 persons on their consumption patterns and living conditions. Also, the survey was meant to find some other social indicators. This has not anyway been focused on actual poverty level,” Dr. de Silva alleged adding “Therefore we cannot accept this figure as accurate.”
The UNP MP also said that people’s real mean income and consumption level of food items such as rice had dropped. “How cans this happen if the economy had improved?” he queried.
UNP wants Govt. to sign Indo-Lanka CEPA
The main opposition UNP yesterday urged the Government to sign the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) with India as soon as possible despite objections by a few.
Speaking during the Budget 2011 debate in Parliament, UNP MP Dr. Harsha de Silva said CEPA should be signed in the greater interests of the country.
“Recently, along with MP Sajith Premadasa and Senior Minister Dr. Sarath Amunugama, I went to India and met External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna. Minister Krishna inquired about the CEPA,” he said.
During the visit, he said Dr. Amunugama as a government member could not give any information about the Sri Lankan Government’s stand.
“I do not know whether that is the reason for him to lose his Ministerial seat this time,” he said.