By Mangala Samaraweera –
Let me, first of all, thank Ernst and Young for organizing this breakfast meeting today to discuss the salient features in the 2019 budget that was presented last evening under the theme “Enterprise Sri Lanka – Empowering the People, Nurturing the Poor”. Our deliberations on the management of national budget, without doubt, would be immensely useful to strengthen our common resolve to achieve Sri Lanka’s full potential.
I must say, this is a continuation of the thrust of my last budget, the intention of which was to shift from a culture of handouts to a culture of empowerment and independence. Towards that end, we initiated a number of steps in liberalizing the economy and driving entrepreneurship and private enterprise, while preserving the rights of the marginalized and the most vulnerable.
In this year’s budget, we expanded the Enterprise Sri Lanka loan schemes by enhancing further value additions. The Enterprise Sri Lanka programme has been successful in getting affordable capital into the hands of small business. Over Rs. 60 billion has been disbursed since the programme started last year, with capital flowing into the hands of emerging and deserving entrepreneurs. Since its inception, the Treasury has allocated over Rs. 9 billion in 2018 /19 to contribute as loan subsidies through the Enterprise Sri Lanka Programme.
We have also made allocations for a SME guarantee fund, which will enable qualifying entities to access finances with minimal collateral requirements. We are establishing a new institutional mechanism to link the Enterprise Sri Lanka participants with the relevant government agencies that facilitate product development and technology infusion, while interested private sector entities are involved to link them into larger value chains with a view to enhance exports.
Another important new initiative from last year was the Gampereliya Rapid rural Development Programme that will be continued, covering 160 electorates throughout the country with a total expenditure of Rs. 48 billion this year. We passed successive years of droughts, floods and other natural disasters that ravaged the rural agriculture sector, which resulted in depleted cash flows in the rural economy.
The Gampereliya programme commenced investment into rural infrastructure including roads, rural markets and small irrigation with a specific focus on community empowerment by successfully re-injecting cash into the rural economy.
In fact, the government has already taken further remedial action to address cash flow in the economy as the Treasury has released Rs. 60 billion to settle outstanding payments to contractors, while the Central Bank has relaxed the Statutory Reserve Requirements (SRR) on two occasions releasing a further Rs. 150 billion. Therefore, a total of over Rs. 270 billion has recently been injected into the system that includes the Enterprise Sri Lanka loans.
We are beginning to see the benefits of these interventions as consumption has been in an upward motion in the economy since the 4th quarter of 2018.
We have also identified a number of structural constraints, which the budget addresses upfront, that include significant investments to upgrade skills to align human resource capabilities to match work force demands. In this context, the government is supporting approaches such as apprenticeship and internship programmes managed by the private sector. Particularly in sectors such as health and IT, private sector driven skills development programmes will be supported in the form of stipends.
Through this approach, the training will be offered for exactly the type of skills required by the industry. In the IT sector for instance, graduates in non-technical subjects will be absorbed into the industry as trainee for whom the government will provide a monthly stipend of up to Rs. 25,000/- for each student. It will be replicated in the nursing sector and pharmaceutical industries, while we are supporting skills development in the construction sector led by CIDA.
We are investing Rs. 344 billion this year for the general education sector, with a major component for improvement of curricula and skills development to suite the modern economy. The budget is supporting greater participation of the non-state higher education entities, to fill the gap for students who qualify but find no placements at the Government Universities.
When you consider public infrastructure, the transport sector requires major investment to improve efficiency and service delivery. We have allocated significant resources to improve bus transport by enhanced technology such as GPS monitoring and digital route plans. We are also investing heavily in urban and national rail systems that include the Colombo city light rail project. This year, in total Rs. 79 billion has been allocated for investments in public transport, along with Rs. 194 billion for roads and highways.
Another impediment in the economy is the fact that participation of women in our labour force that remains at 34%. This is both an economic problem, as well as social unjust, which warrants state intervention. I have proposed that the government shares the costs of maternity benefits provided by the private sector to encourage more female employment.
Plans are afoot to introduce flexible working hours as well as other legislative provisions to facilitate greater participation of women in our workforce. We are of the view that more women deserve decision-making positions in the corporate sector for which we propose to enhance the number of women on boards of listed companies.
We are continuing our emphasis on the development of exports and inward FDI. In 2017 and 2018 we reached our best ever export and FDI figures, supported by our interventions to re-activate GSP + and renew engagement with global markets. We will support the ongoing programmes in this sector including the National Export Strategy and the Export Market Access Programme. Investments in the National Quality Infrastructure will also support companies to improve product quality and standards through enhanced local testing facilities.
The budget supports India and China Market Entry Strategy. Firms establishing in India, China and other key markets will be supported by proposed priority sector Trading Houses to our firms’ secure distribution networks, buyer linkages and other support in market penetration.
We have also identified a package of incentives to investments over US$ 50 million, with enhanced capital allowances, removal of upfront taxes, and other benefits with the expectation of achieving renewed investment interest that was seen in the recent years.
Apart from the efforts to drive economic growth and expansion of economic activity, we are cognizant of the need for a robust social safety net to protect the marginalized and vulnerable segments of society.
Some will say that this is a populist budget because it’s an election year. However, I like to think of Budget 2019 as a caring budget which empowers the people and nurtures the poor.
On one hand, the budget is about free trade, free enterprise and global markets. Empowering; The private sector and creating a new breed of entrepreneurs, recapturing Sri-Lankas’ past as a trading hub of the Indian Ocean.
However, this budget, like my last, is also about our values as a society. It’s about caring for our children, for our sick and elderly, the poor and the down trodden. Even the health of our animals must be taken into account and the state of excluded members of our society must also be taken into account. This is also about how our children get educated and our elderly taken care of.
The budget is about transforming our nation from a feudal myopic mindset to a modern, dynamic and a prosperous society based on the universal values of democracy, inclusivity and reconciliation.
The budget is about how we can unite in our diversity.
*Remarks made by Mangala Samaraweera, Minister of Finance at the Post Budget Breakfast Meeting organized by Ernst and Young on 06th March 2019
critical thinking / March 6, 2019
This is one of best budgets for many reasons. it is aimed at helping poor, public servants and helping the nation building process. It looks like copy cut of some ideas from national organisation for intellectuals : JVP too have some ideas like this to help public and poor, it looks now UNP is changing from capitalism into socialism to help poor, Is it UNP true that UNP copy cut JVP in this aspect. Good luck for them but as and when election is won, public can not approach them at all, So arrogant some politicians in SL except JVP.
Dinuk / March 6, 2019
There is a huge amount of wastage of funds for unnecessary projects that an IMF-debt trapped country can NOT afford , particularly in health and education sectors
1. Tabs for students when there are so many class rooms without teachers and infrastructure in rural areas, The Tabs are a corruption racket to benefit multinational computer companies and line the pocket of Akila Viraj
2. Free health Insurance for all school children, when Sri Lanka ALREADY has a free Health care system and this insurance payment by Government is to benefit from Germany’s Alliance Insurance. Also, it is the elderly who most need extra health care.
3. Luxury Meredes Benz and Ford Ambulances that benefit these car companies and put Lanka into more debt and line the pocked of Rajitha
4. Biometric health cards and computerized health system to put Sri Lankan under surveillance of Uncle Sam and its Proxy Japan.
The technology fetish and consumer culture in this IMF and ADB debt trapped country is part of the Culture of Corruption and money politics promoted by fake Foreign Aid loan donors
And now the Finance Minister who knows nothing about finance has delivered a budget to further beggar Lanka and promote a dependency culture rather than reducing corruption which is the single larges barrier to growth in Lanka today
Lanka Rani / March 7, 2019
Because biometric ID cards were opposed by Civil society, the same project is being smuggled in as free biometric Health Cards with all hospitals computerised to catch anyone out of the system.
This is part of the BIG DATA on demographics in Sri Lanka project of the US-Japan and India for surveillance while making Sri Lankan citizens PERSONAL data accessible to external parties.
ghk / March 7, 2019
Dinuk, how about all Sri Lankans roam around in amudai so we don’t let clothing companies benefit from us?
Old codger / March 7, 2019
“In the IT sector for instance, graduates in non-technical subjects will be absorbed into the industry as trainee for whom the government will provide a monthly stipend of up to Rs. 25,000/- ” says our Mangala. If this was possible, buffaloes could be taught medicine (my sincere apologies to some GMOA members). IT requires a GOOD knowledge of maths and English, which is the very
reason those graduates chose non-technical subjects.
sbarrkum / March 9, 2019
Most IT does not need math (i.e.Calculus, Differential equation, not even exponents).
What is needed is arithmetic and logic, the type we learnt in Geometry, i.e the proving of theorems.
There are many areas of IT, front ends (more geared to graphic types), sys admins (more logic) etc.
So possible for graduates in non-technical subjects to get absorbed into IT.
Heck they may even become Project managers and dictate to the technically educated. I have had deal with a few Project managers who came from a non technical background.
Raman / March 7, 2019
You should know that Lanka Rani, Dinuk, and Critical thinking are the same person .
Fathima / March 8, 2019
Transforming SL mindset has to start from our education system, not from budgets. It is hard to change the packed products of our boring education system as everyone wants to be sitting in an office targeting a car, house and a personal loan. And what surety we have that next FM/Govt will follow the same policies?
Simon De Silva / March 6, 2019
To me this is one of people s friendly budget in recent times.
Alone the followings I find are of vital importance for lanken society.
1) 4000 mio s to be allocated for toilet facilities for those who lack toilets in the country.
2) The funds that would be ready to offer any potential students for their Uni education at an one of the world s best Unis
3).And several more as I heard today in the LIVE discussion in the parliament
We also have to collect the funds from RAJAPAKSHE family for all the wastages that they have deliberately made during the last 10 years.
With the funds alone, you may finance the shelter of the destitute famlies in nothern areas.
Alone the FAKE cabinet and the 52 days COUP between October and December 2018 in recent history, they have abused over 700 billions of rupees.
700 x 1000 million SRILANKENS Rupees
7 00 000 0 lacks of SRILANKENS Rupees
if a shelter could have been completed by 10 lacks
700 000 of poor srilankens could have been given home
That alone could reduce the poverty in this country.
ramona therese fernando / March 7, 2019
Not at all. All the money for these projects come from the Clinton foundation in its efforts to curb Trump and his grander plans for “Brexiting” out of too much world involvement, and leaving countries to formulate what is most inherent to them.
What Mangala (via Koomaraswamy) proposes are things that Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, and so many other places east of us have already done, and now wishing they had done it in a different way. We are starting the deal too late. In fact, it is good we never started the deal. But what might take it off is the amplification of the Singapore/Indian FTA for half-a-decade till we have lost our sovereignty.
Mangala, Ranil, Koomaraswamy, are about amalgamation our delicate and ancient isle both culturally and religiously with the greater Indian conglomerate, so what we can achieve what other countries with some oil did whilst retaining their nationhoods.
Mangala, your forcing Sri Lanka onto the Indian continent is the real myopic vision. 200-million Dalits of India is not a good number, and which will not go away in a thousand years.
The first thing to do for your country is to love and respect of the will and natural inherence of the people. Otherwise all your dreams will be the eventual destroyer of our land.
SJ / March 6, 2019
I would have thought that this is much like what JRJ thought that he was doing.
Let us honestly examine where these bright ideas come from.
The transition is merely from a colonial mindset to a neocolonial mindset.
Native Vedda / March 6, 2019
Please define and explain what exactly you meant by neo colonial mindset?
I suspect you too have joined Dayan the public racist dropping names.
JD / March 6, 2019
Native Vedda: what ever you wish, you won’t get homeland. Instead
tamil women have fair skin children. who knows that 84,000 wives of missing in operation – Martyrs will feel alive again.
Mangala has has given complete 100% owner ships of Shipping operations to foreign companies. so, Srilankan people have at least the minimum wages, profits go else where. who knows drugs and weapons will come easily. People do not have to think about other things as the Revenue Agency will come behind those did not pay Taxes. Why the president is silent. Others will be silent.
St George Winter / March 7, 2019
What idiot can’t understand the ‘neocolonial mindset’.
It simply means the allegiance of local crumb feeders and colonial leftovers wanting to keep assisting the descendants of colonisers (led by America) to suck our blood.
Good Sense / March 6, 2019
To me, what is written in the subject line, which happens to be the concluding remark as well is one thing but the proposals can be yet another. Clearly it is for the entrepreneur and it does not recognize the impoverished. I am not questioning the good intentions of the minister but he must be watchful of what happens in actual practise particularly in the guise of implementing the proposals.
M. Sajjad / March 6, 2019
“Clearly it is for the entrepreneur and it does not recognize the impoverished” – Idea is to make entrepreneurs among the impoverished. Entrepreneurs don’t fall from the sky
Good Sense / March 7, 2019
Entrepreneurs among the impoverished? How can a man with an empty stomach think of a way and look for opportunities? Yes! I know of very strong characters who had hardly any meal because they couldn’t afford it but yet put the heart and soul to succeed small ventures to start with. But that is an exception. Encouraging entrepreneurship has to commended. However that is one side of the coin. Ignoring another section of the society can be costly in so many ways.
Champa / March 6, 2019
There is noting creative in your Budget.
Like all other former Finance Ministers, you are only promoting 71 year old failed budget proposals. Putting old wine into a coloured new bottle and you are calling it creative and far-sighted.
The Enterprise Sri Lanka will be short-lived which is politically motivated project to appease a section of people at the expense of nation-wide tax payers.
What is the meaning of government paying interest of loan receivers? Are you paying out of your pocket or are you putting more burden on poor tax payers?
Giving loans to people which exceeds their income doesn’t make economy better, but only makes vulnerables more vulnerable.
Is this how you turn our country into a modern dynamic and a prosperous society?
Making people depended on government loans and subsidies shows your feudal myopic mindset!
M. Sajjad / March 6, 2019
“What is the meaning of government paying interest of loan receivers?” – The tax payers paying the interest of loans taken by potential entrepreneurs is still better than letting their money being robbed for maintaining some politicians ultra luxury lifestyles.
Babansincho / March 6, 2019
Yes, yes, oldest professon would not be legalized by the budgetary provisions.
There you and the like would not be ready to agree with them.
If whole lot of prodigious number of families without toilets being given toilets is a great thing.
If students with fly colours to pave their way to get their education in world best unis is also commendable
And so many areas where he and the team has focused on are commendable.
BP Rajakashe would have not agreed with them, but in their days, what the buggers did was, to support their own family over 52% of allocations for the ministries of the siblings. All other gawky ministers were considreed as the ruminants that only became fat having done their submissive work for the existence of the Rajaakshe monarchy.
Some of them are still remembering the brutal days while others orifices are permamently shut for the adavantage of the Rajakashe politics.
Chamapwathiye, tell us if not taken loans to gap up the loans, how and what other options we would have as an another poverty stricken nation ?
We are made middle income earners for their IMF purposes only. In the reality over 30% are under poverty Just look at the families in nothern and rest of other provinces the way they live without having the basic NEEDs them as SRILANKENS.
Champa / March 6, 2019
1. “Chamapwathiye, tell us if not taken loans to gap up the loans, how and what other options we would have as an another poverty stricken nation?”
Simple. Government should come up with money generating projects.
2. “If students with fly colours to pave their way to get their education in world best unis is also commendable.”
How could outflow of foreign exchange be commendable? Use you brain.
3. “If whole lot of prodigious number of families without toilets being given toilets is a great thing.”
This is another lie. All Sinhalese households have toilets including the poorest. In India or among hill country estates families it may be different. But Mangala has taken Hambantota and another down south village as an example, which is not true. Allocating funds to modernize toilets is ok, but it not an earth shattering issue. A UNP businessman will surely receive this contract.
4. In reality, not 30%, but close to 60% people are poor or live on daily wages without any hope of the future. Others live on household loans.
5. You can’t take people out from poverty in one budget.
Besides, government has no money to spend other than draining Central Bank Reserves.
This is a “Gedara Yana Gaman Budget.”
Native Vedda / March 6, 2019
“There is noting creative in your Budget.”
Therefore no one can swindle/steal/loot money from the state, and fill the hole with some creative accounting hence you should be happy.
M. Sajjad / March 6, 2019
Dear Minister, you could have told us about last year’s actuals to trust and value your new budget and the ideas. There were complaints from different sectors that the allocations were not fully utilized.
You are much ahead of average people in SL, but not sure how the people, ministries, state sector and the authorities will cooperate on this in a country where majority of people wait for budget to see if they can still afford 3 meals a day, not empowerment or future benefits.
JD / March 6, 2019
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JD / March 6, 2019
when will these things start just before the election. Most of the MCC/IMF money may be spent in key electorates to make win that candidate who is in trouble. Otherwise it starts just months before the election. Central Bank has become a vigilante place where secret information comes out. So, Mangala has appointed a Financial intelligence. the best financial intelligence is the Ministry or the Department ACCOUNTANT and then auditor General. It looks Next govt will be a bankrupt one. Many events are set up to fool both the media and particularly the voter.
JD / March 6, 2019
This article itself shows how Traitorous Mangala Samraweera is.to the country. suddenly during the last year just before the election. Finance ministry must be full of Accountants. Now, suddenly they wanted ERNEST AND YOUNG to organize the budget into a book. so, Ernest and Young is giving a free Breakfast to every parliamentarian. Mangala Samaraweera say it is free, but it won’t be free. They will charge that in the fee which can be millions. HOW DO THEY” DEVELOP THE COUNTRY That WAY. Why every country in the world need GSP+ when we have to send our exports. I don’t know where this Feudal mind set was there before.At least now, those women in the middle east die in order to pay the foreign companies who Sri lankan slaves do everything and send the profits there. they get taxable income. I heard both the President and JVP did not attend the Budget reading. UNP MPs are screaming inside the parliament but I hope rest of the 225 explain this to the people.
JD / March 6, 2019
Enterprise mechanism, Gamperaliya, Samurdhi bank are all Govt money under ministers and so they get rich legally. IT is the rule book and no one can be prosecuted.
JD / March 6, 2019
If the next prime minister is a professional corrupt, then a new precedence has been established now. Every year they pay millions including money for the Breakfast party. So, out own money makes 225 obliged to the Private accounting firm. so, they know every thing about is and it is easy to manipulate the economy by the foreign countries.
JD / March 6, 2019
This is where a Strong president, and the not so executive President who reports both the electoral district elected legislators and NGO running Constitutional council, is important. President should be able to the slaughter going inside the Finance ministry and Central Bank to be stopped. Now, the Sri lankan Financial sector is completely doomed. culture is gone. Bhikkus should work as per the needs of NGOs who are protestants. Culture is all for Drugs,Booze and Sex.
K A Sumanasekera / March 7, 2019
What did this Dude and his his Boss Mate do for the Four Full Years and a Half in Government since 2015 ?
My Elders just reminded me they helped the 225 in Kotte to become multi millionaires in the first six months with up to 34 Mil Ruppiahs each with the free Car Permits.
And helped some of them to move into Multi Million Condos in Colombo.
And made the Old Royals Dr Mahedran and SIL the richest Business Men in Lankawe
But not even one Kilometre of new Roads was built to improve the Infrastructure .
And nott even one Volks Wagen was built despite Dr Ranil’s promise to build Thousands of them.
All they have delivered is 5 Million Families who are malnourished and another 5 Million who are living on less than 1.75 US Bux a Day..
So much for Economic and Infrastructure Development.
But what blew me away is Mangala’s promise to help our Inhabitants to get out of their Old Fashion Mind Set and Shortsightedness…..How Cool..
Mangala’s Boss just returned from Tirumalai after getting Blessings for Good Health ,Good Fortune at the Coming Election and Spiritual Guidance for the next Yahapalanya.
But the Gods there are the Oldest aren’t they?.
Even Mangala himself earned a nice Nick Name ,Kurundu Polla for attacking fellow UNPers in Galle to protect Dr Ranil.
Wonder whether those acts are non Feudal and non Myopic ?…
nalmen / March 7, 2019
all wonderful promises without the money to implement it
how can a broke govt do all these things
the proof of the pudding is in the eating
chiv / March 7, 2019
Dear Pseudos you have proved it again. It is official. Lanka is sending two groups to Geneva. One representing MS to oppose and other by the official government to support the proposal. You did it again RETARDS. Congrats. You had two governments, two PM, two cabinets and now two groups representing Lanka in Geneva.
JD / March 8, 2019
CHIV: Tamils always lose. Paw da.
JD / March 7, 2019
Mangala is spending Rs 100 million to make Stray dogs sterile and Rs 100 million for youth employment promotions. I think, they send Rs 100 million to some International community country, you know which, to buy some Vaccine which makes the dog sterile. I say ask India or china about it and they may do it for Rs 10 million. There may be other options without expensive Vaccines. Farmers are saying they vegetables do not have markets Paddy buying prices are below the govt regulated prices. but, Mangala does not have any thing in his Rainbow budget for the election. Mostly the poor women who goes overseas to do Nanny jobs. they have to pay extra Rs 5000 for the passport. So THE BUDGET FOR THE PEOPLE IS A SCREW UP FOR PEOPLE. they should have increased fuel prices. so,the petrol and diesel fumes and smokes in urban atmospheres may not result cancers. Instead, they keep the petrol/diesel prices low because that makes every one goes for cars. They do not establish a C25, C50 motor bikes and Three wheeler assembly plants in Srilanka. Instead import. Instead of paying millions to Ernest & young, giving millions worth TAX BREAKS to importing software, they should have given overtime to the accountants in the finance ministry some extra money which may comeback as Taxes.
Pathma Jinadasa / March 7, 2019
Like his American masters, Mangala Samaraweera
is never short of words even if he is short of money
as Finance minister
He should first get out of the feudal, myopic mentality
and be realistic. Bandying words and getting Yankee
Doodle Dandies to heap paeans of praise on Samaraweera
is not going to do anything with the common man.
I will not ask him to shut his mouth. He cannot for there
are many uses for it. But be careful with words, Mangala.
JD / March 7, 2019
This is another prediction. Most probably, during the next govt, Some Sri lankan Banks go bankrupt and insolvent. an american rating agency says Loan status of Sri-lankan banks are disasterous and keeps banks in a dangerous situation. Sri lankan people have lot of Debt paying problems. ADB has said, they gave Ibe billion or so and banks have given all those money on loans. so, this time they give more. the result will be Banks will have lot of dafaulted loans and the empty Treasury won’t be able to handle it. Sri lanka has a american MAN POWER temporary employment agency which takes certain percentage from the temporary employer as the fee. they do not pay pay any EI, Pension or medical to the employer. Srilanka has allowed it in Srilanka. Mangala Samaraweera is going to privatize Toilets in cities. that is again will be bought by an american company and Srilankan people will drive the browser and wash the toilets every where and users will pay. SO MUCH DEVELOPMENT
rbh / March 7, 2019
Transforming Our Nation From A Feudal Myopic Mindset To A Modern
The nation mind set is judging the government from borrowing to non borrowing nation A nation’ s proudness consists in what it can do on its own, and not in what it can borrow from others
China is already the largest lender to the island nation. Identifying right reasons and finding appropriate solutions. Exchange rate crisis
Real Revolutionist / March 7, 2019
No difference between the claims made by present & past Finance Ministers, may be in different words to show a non-existing uniqueness in his one.
What’s amazing is present FM who claimed sometime back that alcohol, particularly beer is nutritious for human body, has increased its price to deny people of its benefits.
K.Pillai / March 8, 2019
The CT title says, Mangala Samaraweera claims ~”The Budget Is About Transforming Our Nation From A Feudal Myopic Mindset To A Modern”
Modern what? One may suggest ‘Modern myopic-mindset’.
Not one word from Mangala, about the “Culture” of corruption/nepotism/impunity.
The well intentioned”The Enterprise Sri Lanka programme” may turn out to be another well-intentioned SriLankan Airlines.
Mangala has turned the Post Budget Breakfast Meeting, organized by….hmm….. Ernst and Young on 06th March 2019, into a sermon.
Better education through more of “The Royal Institute”
Better healthcare through more private hospitals.
Cradle to grave state care. Care of elderly and even our animals.
And so on. He ends with “Thank you”, NOT Amen.
Mangala does have a mind different from all our ‘leaders’.
Note the last line: “The budget is about how we can unite in our diversity.”.
Thank you Mangala. We will unite.
RP / March 9, 2019
Not a single word about UNP thieves who emptied the Central Bank? Who would trust you Mangala and your UNP government?