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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2709

Mahinda presents people oriented budget

Sunil C. Perera in Colombo

Colombo, 07 November, (Asiantribune.com): Sri Lanka’s President Mahinda Rajapakse has presented people oriented budget in parliament on Wednesday A special feature of this year’s budget is provision of relief to low income earners and the strengthening of cooperative sector, and state enterprises such as the Laksathosa and the budget shop.Mahinda presents people oriented budget 2008Mahinda presents people oriented budget 2008

The President presenting budget proposal has pointed out that no burdens will be posed on the general public despite the fact that the government is facing rising fuel prices and other national and international challenges.

There will be no increase in the prices of diesel and kerosene. The 15 percent tax on petrol will be reduced to five percent from January next year.

All three wheelers fitted with meters will be provided a limited quantity of petrol at a discount rate. Three wheel owners will also be given credit at concessionary basis to fix meters to their vehicles.

The President added a monthly relief allowance of 100 rupees on kerosene will be provided to low income families.

The cooperatives and the Laksathosa will provide a bag of essential consumer items to low income families.

A sum of 650 million rupees has been allocated to set up new Laksathosa and budget shop. All debts and interests will be removed under the programme to reorganize the cooperative movement. Rural banks will also be exempted from taxes.

The budget has also set aside 200 million rupees to provide rise flour and kerosene at subsidized prices to masses in the plantations. The purchasing price for a liter of milk has been increased to 40 rupees from the current price of 30 rupees.

The fine imposed on slaughtering of milk cows has been increased to 50 thousand rupees.Budget 2008Budget 2008

The budget has provided many incentives to increase milk production including setting up of milk villages.

The Ceylon Fisheries Corporation will continue to provide stable price for produce of fishermen.

Relief granted to school children has also been increased.

The number of Year Five scholarships will be increased to 15 thousand from ten thousand.
The budget has made special allocation to provide school text and school uniforms.

The cost of living allowance of government servants will be continued. It will be increased to 2,500 rupees from January next year. It has also been proposed to increase this allowance to 2,875 rupees from June of next year.

A sum of 1.5 billion rupees has been allocated for the payment of disaster loans of state employees.

Around 15 thousand graduates will receive employment opportunities in the public sector next year.

Competitive examinations will be conducted to fill vacancies without any political bias.

Several budget proposals have been presented to enhance the local industrial sector.

Accordingly, tax reliefs are being provided to the gem and jewellery industry.

The local clothing industry will be exempted from VAT in the importation of thread.

Allocations for the Sri Lanka Board of Investment have been increased with the objective of provision of more welfare facilities for employees in the free trade zones including their transport and road facilities.

President has reiterated that government measures to eradicate terrorism do not amount to acting against the Tamil people.

It is a duty and responsibility of the government to safeguard democratic rights of all people including those living in the north and east.

The President has also pointed out a decrease in clash of opinion has been witnessed and attributed this healthy situation due to the effects of the ten year plan of the Mahinda Chinthana.

President Rajapakse also said the time has come to further develop the situation in order to find a humanitarian and political solution to the national issue.

He also extended invitations to all in the opposition to join hands with the government to work according to a common agenda to bring peace and development to the country.

A set of proposal to simplify the tax structure is also included in the budget.

A special draft bill will be presented to streamline the process of recovering tax arrears.

Accordingly a three member independent committee will be appointed to determine the actual amount of tax arrears to be recovered by 31st of March last year. It has also been proposed to repeal tax arrears of government institutions or loss making individuals based on the recommendations of this committee.

It has also been estimated to recover a sum of five billion rupees next year through payment of taxes.

Special programmes will also be implemented for the welfare of gallant soldiers and their families.

A fund by the name "we for ourselves" will be inaugurated in this regard.

All contributions for this fund will be exempted from taxes. A sum of 750 million rupees will be spent to develop infrastructure facilities of housing complexes of heroic soldiers.

It has also been proposed to increase the price of a bottle of liquor by 35 rupees and a cigarette by two rupees. An additional income of 7.77 billion rupees is anticipated through these measures.

Special emphasis will be made for the "let us grow and develop" programme to increase local food production. Concessions will be provided for provision of technical services and issue of seeds and plants.

The President added it is hoped to save foreign exchange amounting to three billion rupees through the programme.

The VAT on production of local sugar and rice related products has been removed. It is prohibited to block out coconut land exceeding five acres. Fertilizer subsidy has been increased to 15 billion rupees.

Special attention has been focused to streamline the usage of organic fertilizer. An additional sum of 500 million rupees has been set aside for this purpose.

The government will give priority to enhance the nutrition of expecting mothers and children. 250 million rupees have been allocated for programme.

The Social responsibility tax ratio to strengthen the national programme on children has been increased to 1.5 percent.

The government has also decided to open a global art village to enhance skills of film and teledrama actors.

The relief granted for film production has been increased from 25 million rupees to 35 million rupees.

A national cultural center will be set up with the cooperation of ministries of culture and tourism.

- Asian Tribune -

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