COLOMBO (NewsRadio); State Minister of Finance Ranjith Siyambalapitiya says that the government has allocated Rs.852 billion for welfare and relief programmes through the 2023 Budget.
Speaking during the debate on the second reading of the 2023 Budget in Parliament this morning, State Finance Minister Siyambalapitiya therefore rejected the assertion that the adequate funds have not been allocated to provide relief to the people.
He said 10.8 percent of the budgetary allocations are for social welfare and relief programmes.
State Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya said in addition to the Rs.852 billion allocation, separate allocations have been made for health and education.
The State Minister noted the Samurdhi and other allowances will be disbursed continuously and those who are on waiting lists have also been included in the government subsidy scheme.
He said the additional Rs.5,000 allowance will also be given for at least four more months.
The State Minister also assured to provide relief as soon as the government is able to stabilize the economy.
He said yesterday, the President also assured to provide relief to the public sector workers and pensioners in the latter part of next year.
State Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya also noted that proposals have been included to promote and develop local industries, attract tourists, a secure and favourable environment for foreign investments while ensuring the funds to provide relief to the people.
State Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya stressed that proposals included in the 2023 Budget are aimed at solving the pressing issues of the country.
He said the 2023 Budget has been tabled at a time when Sri Lanka is dealing with its biggest financial crisis.
He said the likes of NM Perera, Ronnie de Mel, DB Wijetunga, KN Choksy and Mahinda Rajapaksa as Finance Ministers presented budgets on various occasions, when the country was facing major issues.
The State Minister said however no Finance Minister has faced the issues of the magnitude the President is handling at present.
State Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya stressed that the President has taken the task of rebuilding the country when political leaders were hesitant to take up the challenge.
State Minister Siyambalapitiya noted that as the only member from his party in Parliament, Ranil Wickremesinghe rose to the occasion and accepted the challenge of solving the issues of the people earlier this year.
He said similarly, the President without any hesitation compiled the budget and presented it in Parliament to steer the country in the correct path.
State Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya also emphasized that the democracy and public institutions including Parliament were safeguarded due to the timely intervention of the President.
He said due to the actions of President Wickremesinghe, Members of Parliament are freely able to debate the 2023 Budget today.
State Minister Siyambalapitiya noted that therefore the President has not presented a traditional budget in Parliament but a document to address a wide range of issues faced by the people.
On a separate note, State Minister of Finance Ranjith Siyambalapitiya said steps will be taken to open a tax file for every Member of Parliament.
State Minister Siyambalapitiya said the programme will be implemented in the near future.
He said when the expenditure heads of the Ministry of Finance are debated, he will ensure that a group of officials will be in Parliament to help MPs who are willing to open a tax file.
State Minister of Finance Ranjith Siyambalapitiya added that certain reforms have been proposed based on a joint report compiled on the activities of the three main revenue generation bodies, the Inland Revenue Department, Sri Lanka Customs and the Excise Department.
He said MPs can set an example by opening a tax file at a time when the entire country is calling for reforms.