The Appropriation Bill (Budget) for the fiscal year 2024 will be presented to Parliament by the President and Minister of Finance Ranil Wickremesinghe today (13).
Many economists predict that this year’s budget would be a nontraditional one giving more emphasis to take the country towards a greener and digital economy. It will look at supporting the private sector to invest more on green power generation, export-oriented agriculture, value added exports and investments in the financial sector, ICT and tourism. Assisting the Youth Empowerment and creating a future job oriented workforce with digital literacy too would be priorities.
The Chambers including leading construction chambers too have forward many proposals towards kick starting the economy and looking at solutions to some of their major concerns. Many have also proposed the creation of a ‘special bank’ to lend to the SME sector and women entrepreneurs at low interest rates.
One of the key factors the chambers require from the government are stable economic policies that do not change.
The National Chamber of Exports have forwarded four key proposals and are seeking solutions for VAT and other key issues, said Secretary General/Chief Executive Officer National Chamber of Exporters, Shiham Marikar.
The tourism sector too is looking at reducing their huge tax which is in the excess of 30% which includes 15% VAT and 10% service charge plus provincial councils said stalwart in the industry Anura Lokuhetty.
State Minister of Finance Ranjith Siyamalapitya, said that Sri Lanka economy which was at its lowest with no Reserves to purchase Medicine fuel, gas, and other essentials have now come out of it as the economy has gradually stabilized due to prudent financial management of the government and IMF assistance.
“The budget 2024 is looking at further improving on this and we have a huge responsibility to establish a stable rate of growth,” he said last week.
He said that due to the then economic crisis low-income earners segment are still having its impacts and we are looking at providing them relief. To this we are looking at a welfare allocation for 2024 around Rs. 200 billion a huge increase compared to the previous budget’s 65 billion allocation. In addition, people are also expecting for an increases in government worker salaries and pensions”
Currently there are 1.4 million public servants and 600,000 pensioners.
Due to these and overhead for the first time ever Sri Lanka’s budget expenditure will exceed 6.5 trillion rupees ($19.8 billion) in 2024, an increase of 12% when compared with the previous year, according to the Appropriation Bill, a precursor for the budget.
The government will look at several initiatives to fund this and revenue for this has to be found through SMART taxation and other means that includes increased revenue from Customs, the Inland Revenue Department (IRD), and the Excise Department.