No solution in Budget for current crisis – JVP

The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) has claimed that the Budget proposal for the financial year 2022 does not include any solution to the socioeconomic crisis currently faced by the people.

Addressing a media briefing yesterday (16), JVP Politburo Member Sunil Handunnetti stated that the Budget proposal has not resolved any issues such as those pertaining to gas and fertiliser shortages, skyrocketing commodity prices, and dwindling foreign exchange, particularly US dollar deficits.

“Government revenue is expected to be Rs. 222,100 million by 2022, expenditure Rs. 524,500 million, and debt repayment Rs. 153,100 million. Accordingly, there is a huge gap between the revenue and the expenditure. It has been proposed to obtain loans of Rs. 320,000 million, but who will lend to the Government? The total revenue is expected to be Rs. 71,800 million more by 2022 than this year. However, only Rs. 33,100 million will be earned from the proposals. Where to find the remaining Rs. 40,000 million? This Budget does not answer that,” he said.

He noted that the crisis facing the people is likely to worsen next year, and added that the Government has not been able to find the foreign exchange reserves required to import rice, especially as rice production could decline this Maha season.

Speaking further, Handunnetti added that there was no mention in the Budget proposal of how the Government intends to generate revenue. “Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa said at a press conference that there are more secrets. This is about the imposition of taxes. However, be it pre-Budget or post-Budget, the pressure will be on the people.”

He further said that although a Budget proposal proposes to levy a social security tax of around 2.5% from businesses with a turnover of over Rs. 120 million, it will also cause inconvenience to the people in the end. “Businesses with a turnover of Rs. 120 million have been taxed at 2.5%. Turnover is the amount of sales that take place. For instance, if a car trader sells three vehicles, that is their turnover. That is not the net profit. Maybe, they are running at losses. Therefore, in the end, it is the people who pay these taxes as well,” claimed Handunnetti.

He also alleged that despite attempts being made to levy taxes on legitimate businesses, large-scale racketeers have now been given the opportunity to carry on their businesses without any fines.

Claiming that those involved in the manufacturing industry are currently unable to find dollars to run their businesses, he said that certain businessmen are getting ready to leave the country because of the dollar issue.

“We don’t understand how the Government is trying to expand this economy.”

During the media briefing, Handunnetti further commented on the proposal made in the Budget that parliamentarians should serve as MPs for at least 10 years (two parliamentary terms) in order to receive their pension.

“We have always proposed the abolition of the MP pension. In 2001, we tabled this as a private member motion but it was opposed including by those in the current Government. Why do MPs get separate money from the President’s Fund for health issues when they have a pension and a separate insurance scheme? The pension should be abolished. Vehicle permits should be revoked. Also, when there is no war, the security escorts must be removed,” he said.

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