Sunday, 10 March 2019 10:25

Mixed views on Budget 2019

The Sunday Observer interviewed a cross section of Government and non Government politicians to get their views on Budget 2019.

Government law makers said Budget 2019 has taken into account the real economic situation of the country while giving some sort of relief to a section of people who were marginalised. They said the Budget has been presented within the framework of a long and medium term plan to empower the people and protect the vulnerable. However, some UPFA led Opposition Parliamentarians said Budget 2019 has not focused on real economic development and they don’t see any vision in it.

Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa


The Budget has simply hoodwinked the people with no actual relief given to them. This could clearly be seen when taxes are going to be imposed within the next few days.

The public servants were given a very minimum pay hike. The budget has also failed at least to target an election. It has completely ignored the Police. It has put more burden on the people. The Finance Minister says 100,000 families countrywide don’t have sanitary facilities. It appears that the Minister has been given wrong information by his officials. The whole Budget is full of this kind of false information.

Minister of Health Dr.Rajitha Senaratne

As the Minister of Health, I appreciate it as it covers a series of key areas which directly affect the health sector.

Over Rs.26,000 million has been allocated to develop infrastructure facilities in the sector. Allocations have been made for the benefit of patients for dialysis and peritoneal dialysis. Allocations have also been made to the areas which have direct impact on the health sector such as increasing taxes on cigarettes and liquor.

My thanks to the Finance Minister for taking these initiatives. In our country as in the world, nearly 80 percent of people die due to non- communicable diseases, it is very important to initiate programs to control these diseases.

UPFA Colombo District MP Susil Premajayantha


The Budget has not focused on real economic development. Its presented in March so the Government has to achieve all its targets before the end of this year. There will be a crucial election by the end of this year.

After July or August, the whole country will be with election fever so that nothing constructive will happen. The Government won’t be able to achieve any of the targets as stipulated in its forecast.

On the other hand, it is true that there are proposals to increase the salaries of public servants by Rs.2500 with effect from July 01. The public servants will have to wait for another four months to get their increase. The people expected immediate relief, even to get the Rs.2500, public servants have to wait another four months. What about the 6 million who work in the private sector and those in self-employment? I don’t see any vision in the Budget.

TNA Parliamentarian M.A. Sumanthiran


On the broad front, it seems a responsible Budget. There were lots of expectations that theBudget would target the forthcoming elections. It doesn’t appear to be so. The economic situation has been taken into account and the Budget has been formulated with responsibility.

To that extent, it is a good Budget. Some relief has been given to a section of people who have been marginalised. We welcome the special fund created for Northern and Eastern development, something we have been asking for a long time. The Rs.5000 million to come from other sources will be a boon particularly to start projects that will create jobs for the youth in the North and the East.

State Minister of Finance Eran Wickramaratne


Often people look at the Budget as a short term instrument whereas our Government has a long term and medium term plan. This Budget has been presented within that framework .It is about empowering the people and protecting those vulnerable. We are going to maintain fiscal discipline and consolidation. We brought down the Budget deficit from 7.7 to 5.3 percent last year and to 5 percent next year.

The primary balance, in 60 years was positive, one percent of the GDP in 2018. We are planning to take it to 1.5 percent of the GDP. With fiscal discipline in place we will go for growth. So there is a balance. We are laying the foundation for the next ten years.

If you look at the proposals, incentives have been given for agriculture including the agriculture service industry, tourism and information technology. It has come up with schemes to take up the cost of making our arts graduates into ICT professionals.

It has proposed strengthening women’s participation in the workforce. Some are refinements to the law while the other changes are such as creating child care centres, daycare centres. The Government is also going to share in the cost of maternity leave. There are measures to protect the poor such as the increased disability allowance and elders’ care. For young couples who are dreaming of their first home, the concessionary lending or mortgage terms. So a hostof proposals have been announced, protecting the poor and resuscitating the economy and its growth .

JVP Leader MP Anura Kumara Dissanayake


The Government will have to fall into more and more debt to find the funds required by the Budget. It takes forward liberal economic policies. As a result, the country will get entangled in an economic trap.

The country’s debt burden was aggravated due to the open economic policy introduced in 1977. When the economy is liberalised, naturally more problems will crop up and the debt burden will also go up. More loans will have to be obtained to pay back the outstanding ones. The Government’s expenditure is higher than its revenue. Obtaining more loans is the only strategy which can be adopted to bridge the deficit.

State Minister of Defence and Media Ruwan Wijewardene


It is a very fair and balanced Budget. Lots of people were hoping for an election year and as such we will go all-out to give various concessions and so on. We have a duty to pay back loans. I think Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera has balanced both sides well.

He has given concessions to the people. Actually I am quite happy with the Minister’s balanced Budget. As the State Minister of Defence, I would like to personally thank the Finance Minister for focusing on the ‘war heroes’ and specifically looking at their needs to give concessions.

(Sunday Observer)

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