In Parliament on Thursday
Govt. ready with amendments to Appropriation Bill 2009
House to be informed at appropriate time
The Leader of the House and Minister of Health Nimal Siripala de Silva told Parliament yesterday (13), that the government had prepared the amendments to the Appropriation Bill 2009, according to the determination on clauses (2) and (6) by the Bill and it would be introduced to the House at the appropriate time.

He told UNP Colombo District member Ravi Karunanayake, who queried whether the government had prepared the amendments, that he should first learn the Standing Orders of the House before he raised the questions like a know all.

Speaker W. J. M. Lokubandara: The amendments will be given to members in due course.

UNP Kandy District member Lakshman Kiriella said the Budget had increased taxes on the people though the government said taxes had been reduced. It was like one of the budgets presented by the United Front Government of 1970s. Though the budget said that VAT had been reduced causing a loss 450 billion rupees, other taxes were increased bringing revenue of 760 billion rupees. The total revenue will be 310 billion rupees. On one side the public were told that taxes were reduced, while on the other side it had increased the burdens of the people.

He said foreign exchange reserves had declined by 2 percent which was why the budget had announced that indigenous enterprise would be increased. The vote on defence has been increased as the war too had increase where it costs Rs. 420,000 to kill one terrorist and more funds were needed.

Chief Government Whip Minister of Urban Development and Sacred Area Development Dinesh Gunawardena said he was surprised to hear a senior parliamentarian like Lakshman Kiriella asking what the armed forces were doing with the allocation made to them in the Budget. The government allocated sufficient funds for the forces that had already liberated the Eastern Province and were now defeating the terrorists in the North. Democracy was established and methodically the development of the Eastern Province was going on. It was not possible to re-establish democracy in a region where terrorist forces were operating, but even with difficulties, elections were held and democratic institutions were elected.

The budget was presented amid global economy undergoing unprecedented changes and new economic leaders were emerging. In the 1960s, North America and Canada contributed 29.5 percent to the global economy and in 2002, their contribution was 22.2 percent. But today, this had come down to 18.7 percent while Asia, especially China and India, contributed 37 percent, he said.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa had taken steps to get the territorial sea area of our country which was 23 times the size surveyed, so that we could use marine resources of our territorial waters, a very important achievement that would help in our economic development.

The growth of food production in the past year noted a clear victory due to the policy of encouraging local food production. The paddy production rose from 262,800 tons three years back to 369,700 tons during the current year. Steps were being taken to encourage the consumption of local food grains while discouraging the consumption of wheat flour, the Minister said.

An eminent Indian industrial expert had said that industries had to invent new technologies to become sustainable. Our own industry may be small scale, but in large numbers will contribute to the economic growth, using their own technology under the incentives and assistance to local industries in the Budget, he said.

The Budget proposals had also given incentives to indigenous medicine and tourism could be developed with Ayurveda physicians attracting tourists to get indigenous medicine. At a time when the global economy and high technology were undergoing drastic changes, our local industries as well as agriculture has contributed to economic development and budget proposals were aimed at encouraging local enterprise, he said.

JVP Kurunegala District member Bimal Ratnayake said the Budget proposals had failed to address some of the main issues like the substitution of local milk instead of continuing to import powdered milk. The last budget had allocated 35 million rupees for dairy development, but the Budget had provided only 30 million. Even the last allocation was not sufficient, but 30 million was not at all sufficient to develop the local dairy sector or increase local milk production.

He said that both paper factories were not functioning, but a 50 percent cess had been imposed for the import of paper. Therefore the cost of exercise books will be increase and school children will be affected. The Budget had not provided any relief for the local exercise book industry, nor for any local industry, though the Budget claimed to encourage local enterprises.

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