Vote on Account saved country from major crisis - Mangala | Daily News

Vote on Account saved country from major crisis - Mangala

Finance and Mass Media Minister Mangala Samaraweera tabling the Vote on Account for the first four months of 2019 in Parliament yesterday said a new budget would be presented based on policies with new foresight.

He noted that the UNF did not have control of the government over a period of 54 days of the political crisis and if the Vote on Account was not approved, the country would have faced a dilemma where the state sector employees would not have been able to be paid and the public would have had to face untold difficulties.

The country was without a legitimate Prime Minister or government. As a result, he said the country would have been plunged into a worse economic crisis than Greece.

“If by any chance, we were unable to have the Vote on Account passed prior to December 31, the whole country would have been plunged into a serious economic crisis. State sector employees would not have been able to be paid, pensions could not have been paid, Samurdhi benefits could not have been paid.”

When UPFA-MP Wimal Weerawansa interrupted him, Minister Samaraweera said the illegitimate Prime Minister and government was defeated by both the Legislature and Judiciary.

Samaraweera riled Mahinda Rajapaksa by telling him, “I feel sorry for you. You are someone who usually never falls for dead ropes, but this time you were taken for a serious ride and this time you did not eat a normal rope but you swallowed a cable-rope. It is saddening when something like this happens to a fellow Southerner.”

He noted that the government MPs are committed to serving in the government with new vigour and commitment to bring the country out of this crisis and invited the Opposition to support the government in this endeavour.

“I assure you that we won’t give you dead ropes and will not let you down. We will say what we mean directly.”

Samaraweera said that the government had prepared a budget for 2019 and was ready to present it when the political crisis was unleashed on October 26.

Pointing to history he said, the first Vote on Account was moved on 1931 by the Leader of the State Council, Sir D.B.Jayatilaka.

Even on previous occassions, Vote on Accounts were presented in 1995, 2002, and in 2010 to allocated moneyies for state expenses. The Vote on Account passed yesterday, allocates Rs.795 billion and Rs.965 billion for recurrent and capital expenditures respectively in addition to the allocation of Rs.5 billion for the purpose of advances.

According to Minister Samaraweera, Sri Lanka had positive economic growth during the first six months of 2018. “There was a surplus in the current account. Inflation reached 0.1% in October. Foreign Reserves stood at US$8 billion. Sri Lanka had healthy international ratings and as a result the International Monetary Fund increased the support extended to Sri Lanka,” he said, adding that 2017 was the best year of the Unity Government which reported highest foreign investment and the exports.

In retrospect, the Enterprise Sri lanka programme of the Unity Government has contributed to expand the economy where over Rs.50 billion has been disbursed as loans for private sector including the small and medium size enterprises.

“The Government has given an interest benefit exceeding Rs.5 billion. Based on the interest rate benefit agriculture export, information technology, tourism sectors have seen turning a new leaf. As a result, the economy was widening. The Gamperialiya program developed the infrastructure at grassroots. As at October, we have had allocated Rs.20 billion for development of small irrigation projects and tanks, constructing of markets, and rural road development,” explained Minister Samaraweera.

In between his Vote on Account speech, the Finance Minister added humour by riling MP Mahinda Rajapaksa. “I initially though that you (MR) were innocent and had no hand in this coup, but it later struck me that you were also part of this conspiracy. At the parliament canteen, when you invited me to join you, I thought you were delusional as always. But I heard you were at the Shangri La when you have quietly slipped out and taken oath as the fake Prime Minister even without the knowledge of your wife Shranthi Rajapaksa.”

On a more serious note, the Finance Minister said the government intends to present the budget for 2019 with amendments in January and the debate would run into February, before it is passed. “As a responsible government, we have presented the Vote on Account to enable the smooth functioning of the government mechanism for the first four months of 2019.”

“Three key international credit rating agencies reduced Sri Lanka’s rating. The domestic interest rates went up by 0.85% increasing the debt servicing responsibilities of the Government. Rs.66.5 billion worth funds were withdrawn from our market. Sri Lankan Rupee continued to depreciate despite the 37% reduction of the global fuel prices. Regardless of the seasonal benefits, the tourism industry collapsed,” said Miniter Samaraweera promising to realign the country within a short period on the development path.

It has been proposed to allocate Rs. 1,765 billion as State expenditure in the first four months of next year, out of which Rs.970 billion or 55 percent has been allocated for debt servicing, both capital and interest components. Rs.480 billion has been allocated as recurrent expenditure and Rs.310 billion as capital expenditure.




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