The fourth budget of the present government and Minister Mangala Samaraweera’s inaugural budget paves the way to completely sell the country and the substance of the budget is to intensify the plundering economic system that was introduced after 1977 says the Information Secretary of the JVP Comrade Vijitha Herath.
He said this participating in a press conference held at the head office of the JVP today (10th). The Member of the Central Committee of the JVP and Kalutara District Parliamentarian Comrade Dr. Nalinda Jayatissa too was present.
Speaking further Comrade Vijitha Herath said, “The fourth budget of the present government has been presented. Despite stating it is Mangala’s maiden budget, it is not initiatory. We heard the same old record being played. The Minister proved that the substance of the budget is the attempt to intensify the plundering economic system that was introduced after 1977. The economic system that was introduced after 1977 took our country backwards economically, culturally and socially. The plundering economic system speeded up the breaking down of the political culture in the country. The Minister of Finance stated that the ‘liberalization policy’ would be continued. This budget too has included the slashing of relief, loans, taxes and various other burdens on the people which are the Genetic Characteristics of this economic system.
The income target for 2018 is Rs. 2260000 million. The total expenditure including paying off loans is Rs. 4155000 million. The deficit is Rs. 1895000 million. How is the deficit balanced? The budget does not state an economic programme for this. The economy of a country could be strengthened only by increasing production. Throughout the budget more and more tax proposals have been proposed instead of production. The government has started taking loans to the tune of Rs. 1895000 million. The total tax income of the proposals is Rs. 2034000 million. This income is expected from the taxes already imposed and the new taxes that would be added. It is expected to earn Rs. 110000 million from increasing taxes. This amount would be collected from new taxes in addition to turnover tax, Nation Building Tax (NBT), VAT etc. The essence of the budget is taking more loans and imposing more and more taxes.
VAT and NBT have been imposed on goods and services that had been taxed before. A new ‘carbon tax’ has been introduced for vehicles. A tax to be paid when settling loans has been introduced for the first time in the history of this country. Mangala’s maiden budget also introduces a tax for weddings. Government charges have been increased. It is expected to collect anew Rs. 25000 million from VAT which is the main tax of the indirect taxes that burden the masses. The budget notes clearly indicate how these taxes are levied. Ne taxes have been levied on saplings, flowers, plastic beads, wool cloths, furniture, various kinds of dies, mechanical shelves, electric equipment spectacles, cameras, projectors, watches etc.
The government has levied a tax on the spectacles used by eye patients. This was not stated during the budget speech. Everything was hidden. When levying a tax on electrical equipment all electric equipment used domestically would be taxed. Due to the carbon tax Rs. 62 would be levied on motorcycles, Rs. 640 on motor cars and Rs. 980 would be levied from buses. Vehicles used for more than 5 years would be taxed more. The formula is included in the annexure. Rs.2500 million is expected from this tax. The ‘loan repayment tax’ has been introduced by levying 20 cents from every Rs.1000 from transactions carried out with all financial institutions including banks. There is a trickery note stating the consumers would not be taxed but the banks would be called upon to compensate. If so, a tax could have been levied from the profits of the bank. However, banks would increase their interest rates and levy the tax from its customers.
The government that was in power arbitrarily took loans, ruined funds and burdened the masses with a colossal debt. Now an additional tax is levied when settling loans. The people have to pay the loan and also the interest for it. Now, the new tax also has to be paid by the people. This is the consequence of the debt crisis the people have to bear. Funds are being obtained from the IMF and various other institutions on very high interest. Rs.20000 million is expected from the tax levied for settling loans. It has been proposed to increase government’s service charges by 15%. Fares for birth certificates, identity cards, passports, deeds, stamp fees, applications for examinations have been increased. Though tariffs for water and electricity have not been included the institutions would increase their tariffs. The government expects to collect Rs. 7500 million from this increase.
The tax for vehicles shows that the government does not have a definite vision regarding the economy of the country. Last year Ravi Karunanayaka increased the tax for electric vehicles. This budget does the opposite and gives tax concessions for electric vehicles. There is not much difference between Ravi’s budget and Mangala’s budget. A budget is the indicator of the government’s economic strategy. The change of ministers is not the reason for presenting a different strategy. It is because the government doesn’t have a vision.
The tax has been reduced only for brand new electric vehicles. However, practically no new electric vehicles are imported to our country. Even if a brand new vehicle is bought from Japan, it has to be registered as a reconditioned vehicle. As such, there is no advantage as a result of tax reduction for electric vehicles. Hence, we ask the government to reduce the tax for reconditioned electric vehicles.
The prices of potatoes, onions, sprats and dry fish were reduced before the budget. They are jokes presented targeting the election. It is a temporary gratification of the consumer instead of carrying out programmes to strengthen the local farmer.
According to ‘liberalization’ policy several laws including the paddy lands act, agricultural lands act, the labour act are to be changed. It is definitely stated that houses with less than 4 stories could be sold to foreigners. It has been made possible for any foreign company to buy land from the country. A way has been laid for foreign companies to sell assets of the country. This budget is one that sells the country. The port, oil tank farm at Trincomalee, the airport will be sold. It is said these assets are sold to settle the debt. However, the budget doesn’t state how much has been settled.
The budget paves the way to sell national assets. It is a budget that prepares the base to sell lands, buildings and houses to foreigners. No programme has been put forward to increase production, generate jobs, brings down prices of consumer goods and services. The budget states one million jobs would be given but a how they would be given is not mentioned.
A ‘National Economic Council’ has been established. Rs.270 million has been allocated for it. Despite this council, the decisions regarding the economy would be taken by the economic committee that includes Paskaralingam, Charitha Rathwaththe, Ranil Wickremesinghe and Malik Samarawickreme. We emphasize that the budget has been designed to sell assets and resources. Instead of finding solutions for the economic issues in the country it burdens the masses further.”