Cabinet Spokesman Minister Bandula Gunawardana
- Pic by Lasantha Kumara
- Cabinet approves ambitious economic national policy framework
- “Vistas of prosperity and splendour” in line with President’s manifesto
- Ministries, Departments, other Govt. institutions, PCs, local authorities instructed to follow framework
- After tax cuts, Govt. plans relief for those struggling with loan repayments
By Chandani Kirinde
Cabinet gave its approval to an ambitious economic national policy framework on Wednesday, which the Government plans to implement over the next five years in a bid to guide the country towards a prosperous future.
The framework, titled “Vistas of prosperity and splendour” will give effect to the economic policies laid down in the election manifesto of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Cabinet Spokesman Minister Bandula Gunawardana said yesterday.
The Cabinet proposal to implement the new policy was presented by Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Mahinda Rajapaksa. All Ministries, Departments, Government Institutions, Provincial Council and Local Government bodies will be instructed to follow the guidelines laid out in the framework henceforth, the Minister said.
The National Police Framework will be made public within the course of the week.
Gunawardana said that the second Cabinet meeting of President Rajapaksa focused mainly on the economic woes faced by the people, and how to lift them out of the present predicament.
“In the past five years, revenue has come down, inflation, unemployment and the Cost of Living has gone up, and the economy has lacked stability. The country has gone downhill during this period. We are trying to lift the country out of this situation,” Gunawardana, who is the Minister of Information and Communication Technology, Higher Education, Technology and Innovation said.
He said an issue that was discussed at length at Wednesday’s Cabinet meeting was the need to give a breather to people who are struggling to repay their loans.
“We can see daily that many properties that were mortgaged are being auctioned, as people are unable to repay the loans. This is affecting the rural farmer, the small and medium sector businesses, as well as the big businesses. Some have been driven to suicide because of their inability to repay the loans. Many are having sleepless nights over this issue,” the Minister said.
He said the Prime Minister met with the Central Bank Governor as well as the heads of all commercial banks last week, to get their views on what relief measures can be given to those who are in debt.
“Within the next two weeks, we can announce the plans in this regard,” he said.
The Minister said the tax cuts, including the reduction in VAT, have already given an impetus to the economy.
“We have issued the Gazette notifications so these proposals can be implemented straightaway. They have to be approved by Parliament within three months,” he said.
The new tax cuts would not reduce the price of either alcohol products or cigarettes, as the production taxes have been increased, so there will be no reduction in the revenue from these sources.
He said the cost of most goods and services should come down with the reduction in the Value Added Tax (VAT). The Consumer Affairs Authority has been instructed to ensure that the public get the benefit of the reduced taxes.