Budget deficit reduced at people’s expense - Sajith

By Dasun Edirisinghe

The government in a to reduce the budget deficit had deprived the people of the relief and benefits they earlier enjoyed, Hambantota District UNP Parliamentarian Sajith Premadasa said yesterday.

Addressing a media conference, at the Bodhi Ranasinghe Foundation in Colombo, PMP Premadasa said that the Rajapaksa government had cut down on several subsidies including Samurdhi, fertiliser and the farmer pension to reduce the deficit. "Now, the government has brought down the budget deficit to 5.2 percent compared to the GDP and expects to reduce it to 3.8 percent by 2016, but that is not due to proper economic policies."The had cut down on the Samurdhi payments by Rs. 6,900 million from 2006 to 2012.

The fertiliser subsidy had also been cut down by Rs. 19,040 million this year, Premadasa said, adding that the budget had brought no relief to the public.

He said that the government had not paid the farmers their pension since January 2012. Rs. 1,500 million was needed to per year pay the pensions as 130,000 farmers were entitled to it at present, but the government had allocated only Rs. 1,000 million for the pension scheme for 2014, the Hambantota MP said.

To regulate farmers’ pension scheme Rs. 3,500 million was needed for the next year as there were two year arrears, Premadasa said, adding that the government had not hesitated to seek Rs. 1,500 million to cover the expenses of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.

Premadasa said that according to President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s budget speech, there were only 47 profitable government ventures out of 54.

However, according to the State Fiscal Policy Report, there were 13 government institutions running at a loss such as the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation, SriLankan Airlines, Mihin Air, Sri Lanka Transport Board, MILCO, Ceylon Fisheries Corporation, Ceylon Fisheries Harbour Corporation, Agriculture and Agrarian Insurance Board, Janatha State Development Board, Sri Jayewardenepura Hospital, Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation and the Lanka Mineral Sands Limited.


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