War-like boldness, confidence and execution recommended for Budget 2011

Sunday, 14 November 2010 23:34 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

With exactly a week left for the crucial 2011 Budget, experts are urging the Government in preparing the short to medium term fiscal programme to maintain a boldness and confidence similar to what it characterised in winning the war.The 2011 Budget by all means is the first full-fledged exercise since the end of war in May 2009 and in that context the Government will have an excellent opportunity to come up with a comprehensive fiscal and development policy programme to best harness the post-war rebound.

“So far several macro-economic indicators have gained strength due to the end of war phenomena and some effective policy decisions made. With electioneering for political stronghold behind the nation, the Government can show its true commitment to usher rapid socio-economic growth with the Budget 2011,” analysts emphasised.

“The same confidence, boldness and leadership shown in fighting and winning terrorism so effectively is needed when formulating the Budget 2011 from the Government. If this is ensured then the Budget 2011 will be the future defining one in terms of unleashing growth by winning the economic war,” they added.

 “A well thought out dynamic fiscal programme along with credible and bold policies are critical,” they added noting that Budget 2011 will be most sought after in terms of direction for major economic sectors. If past Budgets were handicapped by having to battle the vagaries of financing the war and securing political stability, then the Government certainly has no excuse now to come up with a mediocre Budget.

“What the Budget 2011 should reflect is the true resurgence of post war Sri Lanka, the unprecedented opportunities both in traditional economic sectors as well as new and globally emerging sectors,” experts pointed out.

“Sri Lanka in general and the private sector in particular need an ideal platform to catch up with what was lost in terms of opportunities and growth during the recent conflict-ridden years. Through Budget 2011 the Government has to deliver an enabling policy environment for this to become a reality sooner than later,” they emphasised.  In countries sans conflicts, what has delivered strong growth is a policy framework that fuels high investments and innovation especially by locals. As an impetus to this, efficient institutions which play facilitative role are important.

In that context it was pointed out that the Government also has the opportunity to make its best push for structural reforms across the public sector and the economy in general. Towards this direction the current strong programme with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) will lend greater support. Revisiting some of the existing relationships and programmes with other multilateral donors such as the World Bank, Asian Development Bank and make them more aligned and dynamic to realise the Budget 2011’s medium term framework is also being suggested.

For the Government’s advantage there are a host of strengths as opposed to weaknesses from which it can draw inspiration.  Whilst private sector’s optimism has gained strength and new investments have begun to take root along with a pick-up in demand for credit, most analysts point to Budget 2011 as the launching pad from which the true post-war potential and opportunity would be unleashed.

Analysts said the end of the war has certainly boosted the country’s profile globally as confirmed by the high growth in tourist arrivals. There have also been early dividends with economy rebounding to post over 7% growth, declining interest rate regime and  inflation contained along with relatively stable exchange rate though of late both are under upward pressure.

“Whilst the end of war is certainly an unprecedented opportunity for Sri Lanka, the global and regional environment remains fragile. Some of our core sectors are highly dependent on external fortunes and developments; hence the Government needs to take cognisance of these factors,” experts noted.

Given the fact that China and India are major attractions for the rest of the world, these two Asian and friendly countries whilst being strong development partners are also competitors. Sri Lanka needs to carve its own unique strategy to remain competitive and attractive,” they added.

Daily FT to celebrate 1st anniversary with ground breaking 2011 Budget seminar

IN a ground breaking initiative of value addition the Daily Financial Times (DailyFT), the country’s only daily business newspaper in partnership with the Colombo University MBA Alumni Association will hold a top-level post-2011 Budget seminar on 23 November from 2.30 p.m. to 6.30 p.m. at the Ceylon Continental Hotel.

The date of the event also marks the first anniversary of DFT, which is the first newspaper to co-organise a Budget seminar.

It will feature Treasury Secretary Dr. P.B. Jayasundera as the keynote speaker. It will be his first interaction with the larger private sector following the presentation of the Budget 2011 in Parliament on 22 November by President Mahinda Rajapaksa who is also the Minister of Finance. Additionally a host of experts will share their respective observations and insights as well.

The impressive line of speakers includes Brandix Lanka CEO Ashroff Omar providing a private sector perspective, Colombo University Senior Lecturer Prof. Sirimal Abeyratne sharing the economist’s perspective and Gajma and Company Partner N.R. Gajendran, Ernst & Young Partner along with Head of the Tax Department Lakmali Nanayakkara and a senior official from the Department of Inland Revenue providing the tax perspectives.

The country’s premier blue chip John Keells Holdings (JKH) is the strategic partner whilst SLT Rainbow Pages is the platinum sponsor. Other supporting organisations include Ceylon Continental Hotel, Phoenix O&M, ITN, Prime TV, Gold, Hiru and Shakthi FM, and Sonic Advertising.

To reserve your seat at this key forum, see page 5 for registration details.