Wednesday, 5 November 2014 00:53
Describes the landmark 10th successive Budget of President Mahinda Rajapaksa as progressive and a hallmark of consistency, continuity and clarity of previous annual fiscal programs
Insists no matter what, Government would stick to lowering Budget deficit
Urges private sector to harness the positive macroeconomic fundamentals to their best
An expressive Finance Secretary Dr. P.B. Jayasundera at yesterday’s post-Budget forum organised by the Daily FT and Colombo Uni. MBAA. See full coverage of Dr. Jayasundera’s passionate and entertaining speech, private sector observations and pictures on pages 11 to 14By Shabiya Ali Ahlam
Finance and Planning Secretary Dr. P.B. Jayasundera yesterday sounded very passionate about President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s landmark 10th successive Budget, describing it as progressive and laying the platform for a more prosperous and efficient Sri Lanka.
Speaking for the first time at a public event since the 24 October presentation of Budget 2015 as he was indisposed, Dr. Jayasundera told a packed Daily FT-Colombo University MBA Alumni Association Forum that the fiscal program for next year was a hallmark of consistency, continuity and clarity, similar to previous budgets.
“Who will present a budget that does not have sunshine in it? Who is a political leader who presents a budget that doesn’t attract people? What is the point in making a budget meaningless?” Dr. Jayasundera asked at the Forum, which was attended by around 600 participants at the Galadari Hotel.
“It is the country’s national balance sheet. The balance sheet should shine. There are winners and losers, and some benefit in the future, some sacrifice now. That is what the budget is all about,” he added.
“When all of them (proposals) are put in one budget, everyone thinks it is a populist budget, sunshine budget, or election budget. President Mahinda Rajapaksa has given the right leadership to give to the country what is relevant to society,” emphasised the Finance Secretary.
Dr. Jayasundera said that unprecedented prior consultation with a large number of stakeholders by President Rajapaksa and incorporation of several proposals made the 2015 Budget popular. He also said that given the reforms envisaged, it was a positive Budget too, apart from it enabling ease of doing business, and aiming at surpluses and transforming the economy to a more dynamic one with goals up to and beyond 2020.
The Treasury Secretary said there were no new taxes in Budget 2015 except for a gaming tax whilst the rationalisation of taxes and introduction of a low tax regime in 2011 has been continued.
He also said that the key task was consolidating what the country has achieved over the past decade, including low inflation, interest rate, low unemployment, higher economic growth, declining budget deficit, stable exchange rates and strong reserves as well as a wide range of positive socio, economic and political indicators.
“The President says his legacy should be nothing but leaving for the future a much stronger budget, one that has never been seen in the post-independence era,” Dr. Jayasundera said.
The Finance Secretary also issued a strong signal to the business community. “The private sector should invest. The challenge is to harness the advantages and potential arising from the favourable macroeconomic environment to the maximum. Don’t grumble, but be competitive. The tax regime has been simplified. If you cannot pay those taxes, my advice is to wind up the business,” Dr. Jayasundera said.
Single digit VAT rate, single payment tax in the offing?
Treasury Secretary Dr. P.B. Jayasundera yesterday hinted at the possibility of Sri Lanka soon seeing a single digit VAT rate and a single payment tax.
He said that VAT has been reduced to 11% and the base widened as part of reforms and rationalisation. “The country needs money. The taxpaying culture must come. Tax must be paid by people who can afford. Let the country go to a single rate VAT sooner rather than later,” Jayasundera said at the Daily FT-Colombo Uni MBAA post-Budget Forum.
“We will also go for single payment tax in the next two years. The disproportions must disappear. We must have a clean system,” Dr. Jayasundera added.
Dr. PBJ demystifies acronyms!
Finance Secretary Dr. P.B. Jayasundera yesterday endeavoured to interpret what some of the acronyms used in the Daily FT-Colombo Uni. MBAA joint marketing campaign to promote the popular post-Budget Forum stood for.
The print campaign crafted by communication partner Phoenix Ogilvy was largely themed “DB, SB, EB talk it over with PB.”
Here is the take
DB: Development Budget
SB: Sunshine Budget
EB: Election Budget
PB: Punchi Banda
Dr. PBJ’s take
DB: Doing Business (ease of)
SB: Surplus Budget
EB: Easing Barriers Budget
PB: Program Budget