Cabinet approves Rs.8 bn to NEC for General Election | Daily News


 

Cabinet approves Rs.8 bn to NEC for General Election

Cabinet has approved Rs.8 billion to the National Election Commission for the expenses of holding the General Election.

Cabinet Spokesman and Information and Communication Technology Minister Dr.Bandula Gunawardena said the allocation has been made to make sure the Commission has sufficient funds to hold the election in time.

Cabinet Spokesman and Information and Communication Technology Minister Dr.Bandula Gunawardena said that this was a special allocation and that more funds would be approved in the future as necessary.

The minister said Cabinet also approved to provide relief measures to the tourism industry, garment industry, migrant workers, Information Technology (IT) industry and small scale industrialists and entrepreneurs, identifying those five categories as the worst affected due to the Coronavirus outbreak.

A Cabinet Paper presented by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to offer a six month grace period from today (March 20) for loans obtained by entrepreneurs of the above mentioned five categories, to provide working capital loans at 4 percent to companies for everyday operations such as paying salaries, wages, overtime payments and bills etc., and to fix a Maximum Retail Price (MRP) of Rs 65 per 1kg for dhal and Rs 100 for 425g canned fish was approved by Cabinet.

“Those who demand to lockdown the country do not understand how bad the current situation has affected the low income people, who mostly depend on daily earnings. Some may ridicule the move to introduce an MRP to dhal and canned fish, but the Government’s effort is to make sure that essential food items are affordable to everybody,” Gunawardena commented. The minister also said that the President, using the provisions in the Constitution that gave him the authority to approve necessary funds when an election is declared, has warranted paying out the previous government’s unsettled bills from the Consolidated Fund.

Accordingly, the Cabinet has approved to allocate Rs.5 billion to settle the overdue bills of the small and medium scale contractors and suppliers of the construction sector, Rs.10 billion to settle the overdue bills of the pharmaceutical companies importing drugs and other medical supplies, and Rs.3 billion to settle the overdue bills of the fertilizer importing companies.

In addition, the Government has made an allocation of Rs. 3 billion to provide relief to about 200,000 families of tea small holders as they have been badly affected due to dry weather. He said the Government intends to settle the above mentioned payments before the Sinhala and Tamil New Year.

The minister also pointed out that the previous Government had not paid money to the banks in the last two years for the 15 percent interest granted for senior citizens’ fixed deposits. “The banks had paid the interest to the senior citizens, but the Government had not paid its share of that interest to the banks in 2018 and 2019. Therefore, the Government owes Rs.46 billion to banks, and Cabinet approved to settle this amount,” he said.


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