Ravi K says Rs. 640 b stimulus to people, economy via Interim Budget

Thursday, 26 February 2015 01:23 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

By Charumini de Silva Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake yesterday revealed that the Interim Budget of President Maithripala Sirisena offered a Rs. 640 billion stimulus to the people and the economy. He said the public sector wage increase and reduction in commodity prices had given a much needed to boost to people and household income after the Mahinda Rajapaksa regime put the economy in a precarious position. Karunanayake said that research conducted by the University of Colombo had found that after the measures in the Interim Budget, a normal middle-class family could save up to Rs. 7,500 on average with the reduction of commodity prices and a salary increase of Rs. 10,000 for government servants. “In total these measures bring in an additional Rs. 640 billion to the economy,” the Finance Minister told a seminar entitled ‘Interim Budget Highlights 2015: Impact on Business’, organised by the Institute of Certified Management Accountants of Sri Lanka (CMA) yesterday. Karunanayake said that this additional revenue would produce a ripple effect in the economy which would drive increased consumer spending that in turn would heighten business confidence by expanding the economy. The Finance Minister also said that other relief measures announced in the Interim Budget, such as higher interest for senior citizens and relief for those who had taken loans and pawned jewellery, would come into effect from April. Ravi K says... He also stressed that the Government would bring down the number of taxes and levies to 15 by 2016. At present there are 37 taxes and levies which are highly complex. Commenting on fiscal management, Karunanayake said that the Rajapaksa regime had made Sri Lanka a debt-ridden country due to excessive borrowing. The nation’s real debt burden, including contingent liabilities, is over Rs. 9 trillion as opposed to the previous estimate of Rs. 7 trillion, he stated. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank have pledged their support to the Government to solve the crisis created by the previous regime. With regard to the economy, the Finance Minister said the Government aimed to spur on manufacturing-led growth with a greater focus on exports, public-private partnerships, Foreign Direct Investment and new job opportunities. Karunanayake promised that that Government would streamline the investment process while getting rid of unnecessary bureaucratic obstacles. “We want to eradicate corruption from our systems. Already there are many investors willing to invest in Sri Lanka and I assure you that there is no necessity to go behind officials to get approval. If an investor comes up with an investment plan, we will make sure that they get approval within 100-days,” Karunanayake stated.