President confident of 2024 Budget’s success

Wednesday, 15 November 2023 01:44 –      – 49

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 President Ranil Wickremesinghe answers a question during a post-Budget interaction with the editors of print and electronic media yesterday at the Presidential Secretariat 

  •  Stresses 2024 Budget is important change for the better to usher economic prosperity and good governance and says “We can implement this Budget”
  •  Signals 2024 Budget as the biggest ever privatisation pointing to landmark proposals on handing over land ownership to farmer families, estate workers and house ownership to dwellers in State-built schemes
  •  Estimates the move will “result in generating Rs. 500 b to Rs. 1 t worth of assets within the economy in one go”
  •  Urges private sector to follow suit in offering cost of living relief to workers

President Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday expressed confidence in making the 2024 Budget a success as it was an important change for the better to usher economic prosperity and good governance.

“We can implement this Budget,” Wickremesinghe told editors of print and electronic media yesterday during a post-Budget discussion at the Presidential Secretariat.

The President’s remark was in response to a question on ambitious revenue and expenditure goals set in the 2024 Budget which he presented in Parliament on Monday.

The 2024 Budget plans to increase tax revenue to Rs. 4 trillion up from Rs. 3 trillion in 2023. Expenditure is envisaged to increase to Rs. 7.8 trillion as against Rs. 5.2 trillion in 2023.  The higher Cost of Living Allowance for public servants and pensioners would cost Rs. 133 billion additionally.

“This is an important Budget that will change the economy and governance for the better,” the President said.

He said that the country needs to set sights on a new competitive economy and the process was started with the agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for $ 3 billion Extended Fund Facility spanning four years.

“The first phase was the 2023 Budget which aimed at reducing expenditure along with initial reforms,” Wickremesinghe said, adding that under the new Central Bank Act, the Government can no longer print money. In that context he said the Government has to increase revenue.

Stressing the need for reforms, he also observed that success of East Asia was due to liberalisation and a private sector-driven growth strategy, shedding a State-led development ideology.

He said that 2024 Budget signals the biggest ever privatisation and pointed to landmark proposals of the Urumaya program which involves handing over ownership of lands already distributed to two million farmer families as well as vesting full ownership of houses in Government-built schemes and land for dwellers in plantations and expanding the Bimsaviya program.

The President estimates this move alone will “result in generating Rs. 500 billion to Rs. 1 trillion worth of assets within the economy in one go.”

In his brief remarks to editors meeting, Wickremesinghe highlighted several other key proposals in 2024 Budget aimed at strengthening the economy’s competitiveness, pursuit of regional and bilateral free trade agreements, modernising agriculture and fishery, renewable energy, tourism, digital economy and human resources.

“We need to start creating new jobs, income and revenues,” the President stressed.

In reference to giving relief to rising cost of living via enhanced allowance to public servants, Wickremesinghe urged the private sector to follow suit.

He also expressed confidence in finalisation of External Debt Restructuring following the receipt of the second tranche under the EFF program of the IMF, Executive Board of which is slated to meet in early December.