The proposals for the coming year include strategies to develop rural and national infrastructure and incentives for domestic producers. .The business for peace alliance (BPA) said in a statement welcoming the 2009 budget .
The BPA hails the proposed regional infrastructure development projects and believes that such investments will lead to regional inclusivity and empowerment in the process of economic development, a cause that the BPA has been advocating since its inception in 2002. In this sense, the development of Galle as a world heritage city is commendable. It is hoped that the development of the Galle harbour will benefit not only tourism but also inter-regional trade and commerce.
It is expected that the proposed increase in cess taxes on imported items such as furniture, leather products, garments and ayurvedic products will have a positive impact on domestic production, especially the regional SMEs. The removal of import taxes on raw material for leather and handicraft industries is a positive move directed at encouraging domestic production. However, the BPA emphasizes on the need to make appropriate technology, access to the market, and infrastructure available for SMEs in order to yield the anticipated positive outcomes.
The reduction of VAT and the raising of tax brackets are seen as an encouraging move towards the development of SMEs. On the other hand, the BPA hopes that the moves proposed by the government to encourage domestic production do not signify a return to the contested import substitution policies.
The BPA hopes that the proposed steps to bring down the cost of living are sustainable and long-term oriented. In light of the present financial crisis and the impending economic depression, it is crucial that these measures are adhered to while new measures are introduced. However, the proposed cess on consumer goods, food items and animal feed and the Nation Building Tax may offset these measures.
The network of regional business leaderships welcomes the proposed measures to make public administrative services more accessible. It is hoped that these simplified services will be extended to regional businesses so that delays in processing business services can be avoided.
As an organization representing the voice of the regions, the BPA is pleased that more resources will be available for the development of regional universities and commends the proposed measures to improve and introduce ICT and facilities and facilities for learning the English language at the rural level. However, the network hopes that the government and the implementing bodies take the necessary measures to ensure that these programmes do not become dysfunctional in the face of the many challenges that they will encounter in the process.
The immediate development of the Eastern Province is vital for the SMEs in the conflict- affected regions to actively take part in the development process. The BPA points out the importance of providing special incentives for the MSMEs in the East to restart their businesses. The implementation of the proposed rehabilitation and redevelopment plans for the Eastern Province should include SMEs in the area, especially those in construction.
The proposed improvement of facilities and funding for research and development is long overdue.
While the dividends of economic growth and economic opportunities must be extended to the backward and conflict-affected regions, it should be borne in mind that a peaceful environment and return to normalcy are vital conditions for all regions to equally participate in the development process. Bringing about a lasting solution to the country's conflict is essential for all communities to enjoy the benefits of sustained economic growth.