Govt disburses Rs. 60b to empower society - Mangala | Sunday Observer

Govt disburses Rs. 60b to empower society - Mangala

More effort will be made to increase the flow of FDIs and exports.
More effort will be made to increase the flow of FDIs and exports.

The Government while taking steps to strengthen the economy will work to empower society through many initiatives. The budget will be a continuation of development oriented action and this is not an election or populist income and expenditure statement of the government, Minister of Finance Mangala Samaraweera told a media briefing outlining the Budget proposals.

Initiatives such as the Enterprise Sri Lanka loan scheme that will further provide affordable capital to small businesses and Gamperaliya are expected to further enhance the scope for socio-economic development. There are also two new proposals under this Budget which provide loan facilities under schemes of Home Sweet Home and Sihina Maliga addressing the financial needs of young couples and migrant workers, he said.

The Government has disbursed Rs. 60 billion as capital to deserving people under these initiatives as loan subsidies and funds are allocated through the SME Guarantee Fund. The Gamperaliya initiative covers 160 electorates around the country and has been allocated Rs. 48 billion this year to strengthen the rural economy and empower the community.

Among the many initiatives by the Government is a new mechanism for production development and technology infusion. It is also envisaged to build a larger value chain for exports. A steady growth in the cash flow of the country is expected and Rs. 60 billion has been allocated to settle outstanding amounts to contractors and inject a further Rs. 270 billion into the system.

“We are beginning to see the results of these interventions. While identifying a number of structural reforms in the labour market, steps will be taken to enhance skills which are in demand among the workforce. There will be programs to provide apprentice and internship training in information technology, nursing and pharmaceutical sectors with skills driven programs needed by these industries. The Government has allocated funds to improve the general education system with a focus on curriculum development to suit the current demand,” he said.

The Budget supports students to further their education by providing scholarships to the 14 best students to study in key international educational institutions. A Scholarship for Education Excellence fund which will be set up soon for this purpose.

There are plans to increase the number of scholarships to 28 to cover all the districts in the country. As Sri Lankan universities could accommodate only 30,000 students steps will be taken to increase placement.

Steps will also be taken to improve public infrastructure and to provide effective service delivery in the transport sector. This includes reducing the number of vehicles coming into the city and providing a better form of transport to all. Rs. 71 billion has been allocated to upgrade the railways and proposals are have been called from the private sector to facilitate this.

“We have given a special place to women in this Budget. They have been provided with flexible working hours along with other benefits.

We have called upon companies to enhance the number of women on the Director Board. We trust that these steps will go a long way in meeting the requirements of women employees,” he said.

More effort will be made to increase the flow of FDIs and exports. Government support is provided for these through initiatives such as the National Export Strategy and market access programs.

“A package of investment facilities will be made available to drive economic growth. Measures will be taken to protect the marginalised and vulnerable sectors of society as this is a caring and empowering Budget.

We will encourage free trade and free enterprise while creating a new breed of entrepreneurs to make Sri Lanka a vibrant trading hub in the Indian Ocean. “An art and craft village will be set up in Dompe and run by the Prisons Department. This Budget is about children and elders to transform our nation to a modern, dynamic and prosperous economy,” he said.