Budget makes life easy for many but not for few MR will not have a strong candidate to compete in future elections as opposition members itself have its own enemies to pull their legs

By

J.Yogaraj – Senior Journalist and Announcer ( S L B C )

Budget 2015 which was presented by the President Rajapaksa on 23rd October has made life easy to many but for few. President Rajapaksa in the capacity of finance minister presented this 10th Budget under his rule. Apparently this was the 69th of post independence of Sri Lanka.This budget, unlike the previous budgets has many distinct features. This budget covered almost every production and service sector.

Highlights of the 2015 Budget:

  • Increase monthly salary of the state sector employees to minimum Rs.15,000. New salary structure will be implemented from January.
  • Cost of Living allowance of the state employees will be increased by Rs. 2200 in 2015 which will provide 10,000 rupee of minimum living allowance.
  • Proposal made to increase the minimum salary of a private sector employee to be Rs. 10,000 by 2015 and Rs. 500 allowance to be added each month. The EPF payment from the employer will be increased up to 14 percent.
  • Value-added tax (VAT) to be reduced to 11 percent from the current 12 percent.
  • Pay As You Earn Tax (PAYE) to be reduced to 12 percent.
  • Special tax introduced for vehicles Taxes on imported cars will be reduced.
  • Cess tax on rubber imports to be increased by Rs. 10 per kilo.
  • Bank of Ceylon to be recapitalized by Rs. 10 billion next year.
  • US$ 150 million will be reinvested on Sri Lanka’s national carriers SriLankan Airlines and Mihin Lanka in 2015.
  • Guaranteed price of paddy to be increased from Rs. 34 to Rs. 40 per Kg. Seed paddy to be given free of charge to farmers. Fertilizer subsidy of Rs. 350 per 50 kg bag to farmers will remain. Fertilizer for other crops will be provided at Rs. 1250 for 50 kg bag.
  • Pension scheme for apparel sector employees will be introduced.
  • The Mahapola scholarship for graduates will be increased from Rs. 2,500 to Rs. 4,000 from next year January.
  • The number of Grade 5 Scholarship students to be increased from 15,000 to 25,000. Their monthly allowance will be increased from Rs. 500 to Rs. 1,500.
  • Pre-school teachers to be provided with a monthly allowance of Rs. 2,500.
  • Teaching assistants will get a monthly allowance of Rs. 9500.
  • Special allowance of university academics, doctors and judiciary service employees to be increased. Financial allocations will be made to develop research facilities in national universities.
  • 50,000 scholarships will be given to students from low income families unable to enter universities. Every student will be given Rs. 3,000 monthly allowance.
  • A monthly allowance of Rs. 3,000 will be given for kidney patients.
  • Funds to be allocated for mobile medical clinics in order to provide free medical checkups for every citizen.
  • Rs. 700 million allocated for development of Maharagama Cancer hospital. Special programs to develop cancer units in Anuradhapura and Ratnapura hospitals will be launched.
  • Rs. 500 million allocated for Special medical clinics that will be held at religious places in Grama Sevaka Divisions island-wide.
  • Samurdhi poverty benefits to be increased to Rs. 3,000 for 4-memeber families and Rs. 2,000 for 3-member families.
  • Pension scheme for Sri Lankan migrant workers will be introduced.
  • Pension scheme and insurance for three-wheeler drivers will be introduced.
  • All disable persons will receive Rs. 3,000 monthly grant while the monthly allowance provided to Senior Citizens is to be increased up to Rs. 2,000 per month.
  • July Strikers’ allowance increased by Rs. 1,000.
  • The monthly allowance provided to the parents of tri-forces personnel increased from Rs. 750 to Rs. 1,000 and also extended to the parents of police officers.
  • Electricity tariffs for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that use below 300 units to get a 25% tariff reduction while other sectors and industrial sector to get 15% reduction.
  • US$ 100 will be charged to enter into casino centers.
  • Bank loans will be provided for law interest rate of 6 percent to be settled in 5 years.
  • Rs. 2 billion allocated to develop irrigation projects in dry zone.
  • Total of 500 new buses will be imported for public transportation purposes.

*** *** ***

“The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce which is considered as a country’s highest order independent organization which gives a clear picture about the business and investment statuses of the country.

The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce welcomes and appreciates the commitment to continued fiscal consolidation in the Budget 2015, particularly the projected lowering of the deficit to 4.6%, which is very supportive of macroeconomic stability.

However, the Chamber suggests the relevant authorities to act quickly and decisively if there are signs of significant deviation from the government’s commendable targets for inflation and the current account of the balance of payments. Given the proposed changes in VAT, NBT and PAYE taxes and the fact that nearly two-thirds of the proposed new revenue for 2015 has been estimated to come from the refinance facility for collection of tax arrears, meeting the proposed revenue targets may remain a challenge. It is encouraging to note the gradual shift in the nature of tax incentives away from blanket, long-term tax holidays towards alternatives that are more targeted, such as accelerated depreciation, tax holidays with defined time horizons, and tax concessions that are directly linked to the amount and type of new investments undertaken.

The Chamber also welcomes the new initiatives to better link revenue and other state agencies and stronger integration of ICT in revenue collection.

It also supports the proposal to have a one-stop-shop service center at Sri Lanka Customs, which will contribute to improved trade facilitation. These measures will improve the ease of doing business in Sri Lanka, which is often more important than granting tax concessions.

The Chamber further acknowledges the positive measures which have already been undertaken to promote exports, including entering into Free Trade Agreements (FTAs).”

MR- image 1CBK- image 1Ranil W - image 1Sobitha - image 1

Budget is not prepared for to promote any election. This is a natural cause development and this is a clear indication that benefits of that development eventually reach the people.Some opposition members before the budget always come up with various proposals. They look for salary increase. They look for relief assistance to small medium sectors, special tax reliefs and loan facilities. When they point this, they point out this as drawbacks of the government and these opposition elements also anticipated that these are impossible tasks. As such they keep on pressing these demands every time they speak on stage. When president takes these points into consideration and when he gets ready to provide these relief assistances, opposition members try to block it. This is the classic mentality of some corrupt opposition members. It is an accepted truth that it is very difficult to do a good thing than a bad thing. MR also tried to give the benefits of the development to the public, but opposition members have different ideas. One good example is that, Common Candidate fiasco. Some members said that they have a common candidate. One day it looks like Ranil Wickramasinghe. The other day it looks like Chandrika, next day it looks like Sobitha Thero. Day by day, it changes a lot.But, no one does not try to bring out a clear picture of Common Candidate. This is because they do not have a solution to this. In other words they do not have a strong contender to challenge MR. But some rational thinking citizen think in a different way. Major opposition UNP may have some candidates for the forthcoming elections. But, those candidates will not contest with MR, but they have internal conspiracies of putting down each other. For an example, if Ranil becomes a common candidate, then Sajith Premadasa and Karu Jayasuriya group will campaign negatively to put RW down. Suppose Karu becomes a common candidate, then Sajith Premadasa and Ranil  group will campaign negatively to put Karu down.Suppose, if Sajith  becomes a common candidate, then Ranil Wickramasinghe and Karu Jayasuriya group will campaign negatively to put Sajith down. Suppose Chandrika becomes  the common candidate, then RW, Sajith , Karu and Tharu and everyone get together to put Chandrika down. Therefore MR will have to just keep silent. MR will not have a opposition component as these opposition elements have strong enemies inside their own dens.

YAL DEVI image 2

YAL DEVI changed the minds of the tamils, thus it promotes many ordinary tamils to change their stance in the forthcoming election

YALDEVI is a big relief to northern tamils, but it is a severe headache to TNA, this breaks the tamil votes into two , out of which major portion goes in favor of MR

YALDEVI train brought pre-1983 era back to Tamils. Before 83 riots, Tamils lived a reasonably a peaceful life but without a political solution. Today Tamils feel the same. They believe life before 1983 has come back and also they have a better confidence that MR will give a just and fair political solution to ethnic crisis. This confidence was not there before 1983 although there was relatively peaceful life.

Demand for YALDEVI popularly known as “Queen of Jaffna” is increasing day by day. It is true that YALDEVI brings more income to Government. There are 4 trains travel to north every day. YALDEVI normal train, express, AC expresses and Postal distribution train are the main services. But it looks like it is not enough. 7.5 million rupees of income earned from the first 10 days. YALDEVI is overloaded. As a result, Government is considering in expanding the services and brings more trains to the belt.

YALDEVI as a political decision maker

On the other side, YALDEVI breaks the tamil votes into two. Major portion will turn to MR’s favor. This is the reflection of the deep analysis of these developments. Tamil National Alliance understands this very well and they are trying find out a solution to counter attack this move. But I personally think there will not be any feasible answer for this major development. Even the European court order to remove the ban on LTTE or blocking the export of fish products to European countries could not stop the strong journey of YALDEVI , as such it could not take away the fame and popularity of YALDEVI.This is a major milestone in tamils future journey.

Recap of re- commencement  ceremony of YALDEVI on 13th October 2014

After a lapse of 24 years, the Northern bound train Yaldevi reached the Jaffna Railway Station at 11.20 morning on 13th October 2014.
Earlier Yaldevi ran upto Palai, and it was expanded to Jaffna and opened by President Mahinda Rajapaksa on that day.After the President bought the first ticket and boarded the train, Yaldevi set off for Jaffna at 11 in the morning

The travel distance from Palai to Jaffna is 35 kilometers and 150 million US dollars were spent to renovate the once discarded railway line between the two cities.There are 5 stops between Palai and Jaffna, and President Mahinda Rajapaksa opened Navakkuli and Kodikamam railway stations.”

You may come up various arguments and equations. But the final fact remains that who is the best candidate to take the country forward. It also gives the common public to think about each candidate’s historical background to decide on the best candidate to rule the country. The confidence, trust, development ,safety and stability could be the deciding factors in the forthcoming election.”

J.Yogaraj – Senior Journalist

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