‘Focus on women’s empowerment, a positive feature of budget 2018’


By Steve A. Morrell

'Women’s empowerment and an enlightened economic culture were aspects of budget 2018. Empowerment of women was a newer aspect that could gain in importance particularly because 51 percent of the population are women and focus on gender and the contribution of women to the economy were not recognized in most previous budgets, president, National Chamber of Commerce of Sri Lanka Sujeeve Samaraweera said.

NCCSL was holding its budget seminar Monday. It examined some aspects of budget 2018 presented by Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera.

At the head table were, president NCCSL Sujeeve Samaraweera, Senior Deputy President NCCSL Asela de Livera, deputy president, NCCSL Nandika Buddhipala and Sec. Gen. CEO, NCCSL Bandula Dissanayake.

It was also of relevance that the SME sector came into focus because there were insufficient young people who were entrepreneurs. The budget proposals as presented stressed attention on the SME sector, which, Samaraweera said, formed a strong segment of economic activity. 'However, lack of enthusiasm among young people to engage in entrepreneurial activity was particularly focused on in these proposals, and the end result could be enhanced delivery of a new breed of business persons who could take advantage of what the budget offered, he said.

Press questions on the tax regime did not stimulate intense discussion. It was acknowledged that only about 200,000 persons were paying taxes. The Inland Revenue Department had confirmed at past fora that some 2 million people who were eligible to pay taxes were evading the tax net.

Deputy president NCCSL Nandika Buddhipala agreed that although tax evasion was more the rule, there were areas that could be subjected to taxes.

Buddhipala said the BOI and the EDB were connected partners. He did not comment that ‘red tape’ was addressed in the budget.

Value addition for manufactured commodities was also included in these proposals.

They agreed, in general, it was a progressive budget, which when implemented could ensure better governance.

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