‘The UNP sold govt institutions to bridge the budget deficit’
Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa presided yesterday when Parliament met at
9.30 am. After the presentation of papers and oral questions, the House
took up the second reading of the Appropriation Bill for the fifth
A 50% deficit difference between inland revenue and expenditure
Joseph Micheal Perera (UNP): There is nearly a 50 percent
difference between the inland revenue and its expenditure. It has been
planned to fill this gap out of loans taken from within the country and
from outside the country.
Although it had been said in the budget speech that salaries of
public servants had been increased, it had been an allowance that had
been added to the salary.
Medicine is not being manufactured in Sri Lanka. There is a lack of
medicine in hospitals.
Money had not been allocated to build up new houses. Housing is a
serious issue today.
There is no allocations proposed in this budget to encourage
small-scale and medium-scale enterprises. The prices of commodities are
increasing. What has happened to the allowance for milk powder for
children that you promised? Foreign investments are not flowing in. The
budget is a burden to the country.
Construction, Engineering Services, Housing and Common Amenities
Minister Wimal Weerawansa
Deputy Speaker Chandima Weerakkody takes the Chair
I have been giving ear attentively to the speech made by MP Joseph
Michael Perera. He never said that this budget had reduced welfare that
had been provided so far. It means that this government is still
providing massive welfare to the people so far. You spoke of taking
loans to bridge the budget deficit.
That question should be asked from the UNP as to who obtained loans
and sold valuable government institutions to bridge the budget deficit.
But this government has no need to sell government institutions to
bridge this gap. We need to stop taking loans, but we are unable to stop
it abruptly, although we need to do so. It is a trap set by UNP
governments. We have positive dreams about our economy.
Joseph Micheal Perera spoke of the public service. Now there are 1.2
million serving in the public services. The UNP tried to reduce the
public service to 0.6 million. We gave them increments.
Joseph Micheal Perera said that the country is subjected to
militarization, and the members of the forces were cultivating weeds in
the Parliament grounds. What is this? Aftermath the operations, we have
not sent a single forces member home. None of the civil security forces
have been sent home as there was no threat to villages.
What is wrong in triforces members who won the war for this country,
to get themselves involved in the development drive?
Is it militarization? But what will happen if Mahinda Rajapaksa lost
the Presidential election? Who would win and what about the list that
was prepared to be assassinated? Is it not militarization? The UNP is
bringing forward arguments that contradict their own.
The Opposition also criticised that country’s law and order had
collapsed. The Opposition MPs attempted to showcase the unfortunate
killing of former MP Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra as a failure in the
enforcement of law. But this was not reality. When justice has not being
meted out by Court, one can appeal against it in the District Court.
People can seek justice from the Supreme Court and Appeal Court. The law
is operative throughout the country. There is no doubt about it.
The Opposition always tries to attempt to complain to international
bodies over internal problems of the country. They go to UN Human Rights
Council over alleged human rights violations within the country. These
are internal problems that should be probed within the boundary of this
The Opposition also said that this government was following
neo-liberal policies. If the policies followed by the present regime are
called neo-liberal, then how can one call the policies pursued by UNP
leader Ranil Wickremesinghe?
This government follows a path unique to the country and its economic
policies are far sighted and adjusted to suit the country.
When a budget is presented, what should be looked into is whether it
has suggestions to drag the country back or make it weaker. I ensure
that there are no such suggestions in this budget. Then we have to look
whether there are proposals to improve the economic status of the
country. In this budget, relief has been provided to the industrial and
service sector. The country’s economy will gradually rise due to these
This budget has not been presented with the aim of depending on
long-term debts. It has proposed income generation avenues to reduce the
debt burden of the country gradually.
Public servants are to gain only an allowance
Dr Jayalath Jayawardena (UNP): I would like to remind Minister
Weerawansa that it was President Mahinda Rajapaksa who first sought the
help of the Geneva Human Rights Council amidst turbulence in 1983, when
human rights deprivations were taking place in the country. So the first
example of this habit was given by the President himself.
Public servants are only given a 10 percent allowance of their basic
This salary hike does not account to their EPF or ETF. This
government has deceived the people. The cost of living is rising sky
high and people are in a miserable situation.
The depreciation of the value of the rupee is not suitable to a
country such as Sri Lanka.
The Police is the main institution that protects the law in the
country. People have lost their faith on this institution and people
take the law into their hands. This is what is happening in the country
I also request the government to extend the given salary hike to the
private sector as well. The private sector employees are not given any
benefits from this budget.
A national budget suitable to our country
Scientific Affairs Senior Minister Prof Tissa Vitharana: On
behalf of the Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP), I extend my appreciation
to President Mahinda Rajapaksa and the Treasury for the manner in which
they have run Sri Lanka’s economy resisting even the global economic
crisis. This is a national budget which is very suitable to our country.
The world is facing difficult times and countries are prone to
promote the selling of military weapons to increase their income. For
this purpose, these countries even provide incentives towards civil
conflicts in countries. As a country, Sri Lanka has to face these
challenges with wisdom.
The COPE report has now been completed and I must note that as the
government we have to take measures to curb the shortcomings in public
enterprises by analyzing them. A people-friendly rule should be
established and priority should be given to satisfy their needs.
We are grateful over the development process taking place in the
country. However, when these development activities are taking place,
the government should pay attention to place less burdens on the
We have to take steps to reduce the gap between expenses on imports
and revenue of exports. Today the amount we spend for imported goods is
higher than the revenue we obtain from exports.
As the LSSP, we observe that more priority should be given to promote
savings within the country. More weight should be given in this aspect.
We also think that the promotion of Development Banks is also
necessary. These proposals will help towards better economic management.
I also observe that corruption, bribery and fraud should be curbed as
much as possible, for the better future of the country.
Buddhika Pathirana (UNP): The budget is a very important
document which would decide the future of any country. Many disparaties
in several sections could be seen in this budget. Nothing has been
mentioned for the betterment of the people.
The value of the rupee has been depreciated. This will badly affect
the private sector workers and entrepreneurs. Funds allocated for youth
affairs from this budget had been very low. We cannot be happy with this
allocation. The government has not paid attention to allocate money for
the moral development of the people.
The government should give priority for the improvement of physical
resources as well as moral development and discipline.
Justice Minister Rauf Hakeem: This is a very praiseworthy
budget which would cater to the requirements of the country. The budget
has been prepaired focussing on speedy development. Special allocations
have been made to protect the people from natural disasters. A sum of Rs
300 million has been allocated for this purpose.
In addition, funds have been allocated for coast conservation. The
significant feature of this budget is the deficit reduction.
It is commendable the budget proposal of setting up of an
International Arbitration Centre in Sri Lanka. As a whole, the budget
presented was targeting the economic development, environmental
development and political stability of the country.
Ruwan Wijaywardena (UNP): Free education and free health
facilities are very vital to create a good nation. Therefore, sufficient
allocations should be made for the enhancement of these sectors. The
lack of teachers in schools and facilities in schools have resulted in
the close down of a number of rural schools.
Productivity Promotion Minister Lakshman Seneviratne: The Opposition
said that the Hambantota Port was a useless project and criticized the
Expressway. Do they know that Ranil Wickremasinghe laid a foundation
stone to construct the Hambantota Harbour, but could not do it. If he
could do it, why not President Rajapaksa? The UNP took measures to
construct the expressway. Two ministers under the UNP regime took money
from contractors to do so, but it failed. All Opposition members are
talking maliciously about the budget.
E Saravanapavan (TNA): When operations in the North had been
over, we were eagerly looking forward to a solution for the number one
issue in the country, the ethnic issue. But it did not materialize. This
budget has allocated the highest amount of money for defence.
The government is not allowing any donor to carry on development
projects in the North.
The government has to be adamant.
A H M Azwer takes the Chair
Public Relations and Public Affairs Minister Mervyn Silva: Before we
debate on the budget, we have to think of ourselves. If we think of
ourselves, we and the Opposition have no arguments. Budgets were
presented since the time of first Prime Minister D S Senanayake. But
this budget is a development oriented budget. The development projects
are in progress throughout the country.
The President considered all aspects from the most poorest to the
rich when he drafted the budget. He has increased the allowances for the
poor by Rs 750 as relief to them. For public servants a 10 percent
salary increase. Basil Rajapaksa has shouldered the entire economy.
Gotabhaya Rajapaksa is a hero.
I ask the Opposition, was there any period in history when such a
large number of Buddhist flags had been hoisted and children attending
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Sumedha G Jayasena: I
congratulate President Mahinda Rajapaksa for presenting an all inclusive
budget for next year. I oppose the Opposition’s behaviour when the
President made his budget speech in Parliament. The Opposition should
not obstruct the good moves of this government.
I would like to remind you of the fact that the per capita income
which was about 1,000 Dollars earlier, has now increased upto 2,800
The government and the leadership of the country were able to manage
the economy in an efficient manner, while the economies of many
countries in the world were collapsing. The main target of this
government is to strengthen the domestic economic units and thereby
improve the living standards of the people.
The grant of Rs 100,000 for the third child of security forces’
families have been extended to Police personnel families too. This is a
commendable move for the welfare of those families.
Ven Athuraliye Rathana Thera (UPFA): The world is on the brink
of a new era which would signal the shift of capital power to the Asian
region and a change of traditional power balance in the world.
In a background such as this, food security has been very
significant. The present regime has placed prominent attention towards
this task. Programmes such as Divi Neguma caters to this target.
We should also think more about shifting towards organic fertilizer
and measures must be introduced to prevent the use of various chemicals
in food items and cultivations.
The energy crisis in the world is turning from bad to worse. Sri
Lanka should be ready to face this challenge and we should have a proper
plan towards this problem.
Dr Sudarshani Fernandopulle (UPFA): I take this opportunity to
express my concern for the affected people due to inclement weather
patterns in the country.
The country has recorded an eight percent economic growth rate. The
poverty level has declined to 8.9 percent. The budget deficit was eight
percent of the gross domestic product in 2010 which has fallen to 6.8
percent by 2011.
Even though the Opposition criticised that allocations for defence is
too high for 2012, I would like to point out that as a percentage this
amount has been less than the year 2011. About 300,000 military
personnel contributed to defeat terrorism. We have to take care of them
even though the war had been over.
There is a visible improvement in the health sector in the country.
Maternity and child health facilities have been improved. This budget
has proposed measures to improve the health facilities for the elderly
This budget has looked into the needs of all ethnic groups in the
S Alantin (UPFA): A rapid development should take place in the
Northern Province. Their lives should be brought back to normal and
income avenues introduced.
Measures should be taken to revive the agricultural sector in Jaffna
and Kilinochchi. There are problems pertaining to the fisheries sector
too. There are various intrusions from Indian fishermen. These should be
War affected people should be given aid and grants to improve their
living standards. People who are living below the poverty line face
numerous problems when buying food and clothes necessary for their
The Jaffna Hospital is being upgraded with modern facilities and we
appreciate this move by the government.
Abdul Haleem (UNP): The salary hike of public servants is not
upto expectations. They expected a Rs 2,500 salary hike, but were only
given a 10 percent salary hike from their basic salary.
Even this grant had not been given to private sector employees who
count over six million in number.
The Colombo Stock Exchange has collapsed. Sri Lanka’s share market
which had been considered as one the best in the region, has collapsed
due to weak management.
This budget has not mentioned about the pensions for farmers as well.
No proposal had been made to facilitate better markets for their
Agriculture Minister Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena: The entire
country is now enjoying the dividends of peace. We have achieved peace
despite many difficulties. We should all get-together to protect and
strengthen the country. The brave leadership of President Mahinda
Rajapaksa brought in peace to the country.
The country currently is self-sufficient in rice. We are seeking
possibilities of exporting rice to other countries. One of the main
challenges before us is natural disasters.
We must be in readiness to face them. There should be a proper
mechanism in this regard.
We have a target of exporting 25,000 metric tonnes of rice by 2015.
We have the courage and know-how to achieve this target.
This budget is directly helping our economy to achieve development.
This will pave the way to achieve our economic prosperity.
Arundhika Fernando (UPFA): The aviation sector has been given
utmost priority by this budget. The budget has allocated a massive
amount of money to develop the aviation sector, including upgrading
facilities in airports, purchasing of new air buses and expansion of
For the first time in history, a massive amount of funds has been
allocated to the North and East by this budget.
Meanwhile 1,000 schools across the country are to be upgraded.
Fisheries harbours are being developed.
Today, paddy, coconut, vegetables, tea and rubber production have
been increased due to the fertilizer subsidy. Concessions have been
given to disabled soldiers and parents of War Heroes. As a whole, this
is a development-oriented and welfare-focused budget.
Vino Radhalingam (TNA): There are displaced people still
living in welfare camps in the North. They are facing a number of
problems. They must be resettled in their native places.
There are a number of anti-social activities taking place in the
North. Steps must be taken by the government to prevent such activities.
Fundamental rights of the people in the North should be protected. What
the government should do is to restore a peaceful environment in the
North. So that the people could live in peace and harmony.
Disaster Management Deputy Minister Dulip Wijesekera: The
budget is continuing to provide all the relief provided by the previous
Today the people are standing with the government proudly whatever
promises the Opposition gave to the people during the election period.
The biggest budget in its history
Shantha Bandara (UPFA): This budget is one of the biggest
budgets in history, where a sum of Rs 2,220 billion is circulated and
presented by the President.
This budget has provided relief to the people, but not for the
Throughout the country, including all Grama Seva divisions,
development is taking place while massive projects such as expressways
are being completed.
Not only the economy, but the security of most countries in the world
have become unstable today.
In such an era, our economy as well as our security is very much
stable under the leadership of President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
Journalists and artistes have been serving this nation amidst many
difficulties. Certain journalists did not have at least a house of their
own. President Mahinda Rajapaksa paying attention to their problems,
allocated them a sum of Rs 25 million for a fund to support them.
The Tamil members yesterday said in Parliament that the government
could make expressways along A-9, but it cannot console the hearts of
the Tamils. These members are afraid that the Tamil youths when they are
given their share of development, would understand reality and build up
unity with the people in the South.
People should unite leaving aside all differences.
Prasanna Weerawardena (UPFA): When we were schooling and were
in our Advance Level classes, we are able to remember that the country
was stagnating in one place, being unable to go forward due to two
reasons. One was the terrorism menace, while the other was political
A few years ago, the defeat of terrorism was a dream and securing 150
seats in Parliament was a challenge.
But this government was able to defeat terrorism within a short
period of time and also secure 160 seats under the leadership of
President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
Yesterday we were able to open our first expressway proudly.
Hingurana Sugar Company to be reopened
The Hingurana Sugar Company will be reopened during next year, State
Resources and Enterprise Development Minister Dayasritha Tissera said in
He was responding to an adjournment motion moved by DNA MP Vijitha
Vijitha Herath (DNA): I request the government to intervene to
protect the sugarcane cultivators without politicizing these companies.
Sugarcane lands should be distributed among sugarcane cultivators in a
way that they can be benefited.
For the last 31 years, sugarcane cultivators have been neglected.
Sugarcane farmers of the Hingurana Sugar Company shifted to paddy
cultivation during its closure. Now people with influence are attempting
to direct the farmers to shift back to sugarcane cultivation.
The sugarcane farmers should be given more facilities and loans to
improve their cultivation. UNP MP Abdul Haleem seconded the motion.
Wildlife and Agrarian Services Minister S M Chandrasena: Today
there is plenty of land for paddy cultivation. Even though severe floods
had hit the country last year, there has been a surplus of paddy
harvest. This was because we have access to the Northern and Eastern
However, lands allocated for sugarcane cultivation have not been
sufficient. That is why we have promoted sugarcane cultivation in
certain paddy lands.
State Resources and Enterprises Deputy Minister Sarath Kumara
Gunaratne: Do not mislead the farmers. There is no force directed at
them. All these lands had been offered for sugarcane cultivation and not
for other cultivations. Some of these lands have been sold to other
parties. So we have to rectify these errors by promoting sugarcane
cultivation once again.
We even had to take over the Sevanagala Company since it had shifted
from sugar production.
If Opposition MPs say that injustice had been done to these farmers,
we are willing to look into them. We are always ready to support the
State Resources and Enterprise Development Minister Dayasritha
Tissera: The Hingurana Sugar Company was privatized in 1993 and the
owner of this company had left in 1996.
The Hingurana Company had collapsed as a result and the sugarcane
cultivations had been abandoned.
The government has decided to reopen this factory next year and if
this is not done, the company will be taken over.
About 850 hectares of sugarcane lands have been cultivated once
again. The government has a share of 51 percent while the private
company has a share of 49 percent of this factory.
The House was adjourned until 9.30 am today.