More Budget allocations for Health, Education sectors

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Sri Lanka has decided to allocate more funding for the Education and Health sector through this year’s revised Budget, the Prime Minister’s office said yesterday.

Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena on Tuesday (9) presented the revised Budget for the remaining months of this year to Parliament as his maiden Budget presentation.

Allocations under the President and Public Security categories have been increased in the Budget.

The allocation for the Ministry of Defense has been increased by Rs 3.76 billion.

Recurrent and capital expenditure of the Ministry of Health has been increased to Rs 248 billion.

According to the Appropriation Account, Rs 682 billion has also been earmarked for recurrent expenditure on public administration. Rs 212 billion has been allocated for the Ministry of Public Security.

Rs 9.3 billion has been allocated to the Ministry of Trade, Commerce and Food Security and Rs 467 billion has been allocated to the Ministry of Finance, Economic Stabilisation and National Policy.

The allocation of Rs 138 billion for agriculture is also unique.

A date will be fixed for the draft to be debated at the next parliamentary business committee meeting.

It was a mandatory condition to present an interim budget containing new revenue proposals in order to reach staff level agreements with the IMF.

The Ministry of Finance is working to bring the Government’s tax policy back to the state it was in before the 2019 presidential election. Accordingly, the Ministry is working to introduce new revenue proposals via the revised budget as well as in the upcoming 2023 Budget.

 As a percentage of GDP, government revenue has fallen to 8 per cent. The Government expects this to reach 12 per cent in the next few years.

Economic and financial commentators point out that it is very difficult to meet the expected revenue targets of the Government based on the prevailing sluggish economic conditions.

The Central Bank expects the Sri Lankan economy to experience a negative growth of around 7 per cent this year.

Japan has halted 12 projects under Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in Sri Lanka until the IMF provides a roadmap to the Sri Lankan economy.

 By Ishara Gamage