JVP asks govt. not to sell family silver to bridge budget deficit



Harini Amarasuriya

By Saman Indrajith

The JVP-led NPP yesterday demanded to know from the government whether it could bridge the budget deficit without selling state assets.

During the Second Reading stage debate on Budget 2024, its national list MP Dr. Harini Amarasuriya asserted that the government has failed to devise meaningful ways to address the budget deficit of Rs 2,851 billion. The proposals presented to the House on Monday primarily focus on selling more national assets and further taxing individuals already severely impacted by the economic crisis. There is a fundamental issue when seeking solutions from the Minister of Finance who shares responsibility for the ongoing crisis since 1977. These proposals lack any measures to stimulate economic growth in an economy that continues to contract, having already shrunk by 7.9 percent since the beginning of this year.

Dr. Amarasuriya said that the proposed Rs 10,000 allowance to public sector workers cannot be considered an income increase, as this amount would likely be offset by taxes and the rising prices of essential goods, which have surged following the recent VAT increase.

Regarding the President’s justification for selling the Nuwara Eliya Post Office as a means of conserving the historic building, she said that selling and conservation are distinct processes. Describing the budget as ‘revolutionary,’ government members fail to present anything groundbreaking, instead continuing the trend of selling off national assets, a practice prevailing in governments since 1977.