President Ranil Wickremesinghe, in his power as the Minister of Finance, delivered the second reading of the 2021 Appropriation (Amendment) Bill in Parliament today (30).
He announced an increase in Value Added Tax (VAT) from 12% to 15% and noted that the retirement age of government and semi-government sector employees will reduce to 60 years.
The Head of State also proposed to issue 20% stake of state-owned banks (Bank of Ceylon & People’s Bank) to its employees and depositors.
Meanwhile, expectant women will be awarded Rs.2,500 in addition to the Rs.20,000 that is currently being granted and allowances given to Samurdhi beneficiaries, the elderly and disabled persons will also be increased by Rs.5,000 to Rs.7,500.
Further, a total of 61,000 low-income families will be given Rs. 10,000 monthly for a period of 4 months and loans obtained from state banks by small-scale farmers will be waived off (excluding interest). The Treasury will pay Rs.680 million owed to the banks in stages.
A staggering sum of Rs. 200 million will also be allocated to improve the local dairy industry.
President Wickremesinghe also said that a National Food Security programme is to be introduced.
In an additional move to develop the country, the President proposed to only purchase electric vehicles for the use of state services. Furthermore, tenders will be called from investors to develop the Kelani Valley Train Line.
Education, health, digitalization, public sector, and social security will be given priority under capital expenditure.
A proposal has been put forward to establish a branch of General Sir John Kotelawala Defence University in Kurunegala.
Further, the government has been advised to amend regulations to encourage foreign universities to open branches in Sri Lanka.