DNA takes on Budget 2014

Monday, 2 December 2013 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • People lost faith in ‘Mahinda Chinthana’ as well as the UPFA budgets
  • President continues to be fed by borrowed money
  • Rs. 2.1 b required to settle past dues of 142,000 farmers but allocated only Rs. 1,000 m
  • Cost of living of family of 4 increased to Rs. 49,300 in 2013 from Rs. 25,344 in 2005
By Ashwin Hemmathagama, Our Lobby Correspondent Democratic National Alliance MP Anura Dissanayake on Friday criticised the UPFA Government and the nine Budgets presented by President Mahinda Rajapaksa for discontinuing the annual policy statement’s traditional features that showcased the state of the economy. “A long time ago people stopped believing in the ‘Mahinda Chinthana’ political manifesto. Unfortunately from this year onwards they have stopped trusting the Budget proposals,” he charged. Dissanayake said that although the Government had not introduced plans to create a tourism hub including casinos in the previous Budget proposals, the plans had been put in motion. “The Government didn’t disclose the loss at CEB at the time of Budget 2013 or the plan of passing the losses to the general public. But the tariff rates were increased, affecting the economy,” he explained. Dissanayake said that although the Government had boasted that land would not be sold to any foreigner, prime property in front of Galle Face Green had been sold to Shangri-La. But he said the farmer pension scheme was the biggest scam in the 2014 Budget. “There were 952,000 farmers who subscribed to the pension scheme and 92,000 were receiving the monthly pension when the scheme was abruptly discontinued by the Government two years go. Since the discontinuation, there are 50,000 farmers newly entitled for this pension, having completed 60 years of age. So, Rs. 2.1 billion was required just to settle their dues. But in the 2014 Budget, the Government has only allocated Rs. 1 billion,” he said. Meanwhile Rs. 26 billion had been allocated by the Budget for the loss-making Mihin Lanka and SriLankan Airlines, Dissanayake charged. “Barely 1% of our population use these airlines,” he said.  Dissanayake charged that the cost of living allowance provided for in the Budget was grossly inadequate. When President Mahinda Rajapaksa assumed duties in 2005, the monthly household expenses for a family of four had been Rs. 25,344, he said, adding that the figure was now up to Rs. 49,300. The DNA MP said economic growth had slowed to 6.14% in 2012. “The reason is that this economic growth rate is nothing more than a bubble, which does not reflect the actual growth in the country. Imports were the key factors, which boosted the growth in post war Sri Lanka, 2010 and 2011. Do you know that import growth in 2010 and 2011 was 32% and 51% respectively?” he said. Stating that in reality there was no real wealth being created in the country, Dissanayake slammed the Government for unsustainable borrowings, saying debt had increased by 190% since President Rajapaksa assumed power. Sri Lanka was currently paying more than its earnings on debt servicing and was continuing to borrow at high rates of interest to meet daily expenses, the DNA MP said. Even the President was being sustained on borrowed money, he charged. “The President recently said that he is not afraid to take loans. Yes of course he is not afraid. After all, he doesn’t pay back the loans, the public shoulders that burden,” the MP said.