Country placed in a good position
Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa presided when Parliament met at 9.30 am
yesterday. After the presentation of papers and oral questions, the
House took up Committee Stage debate on the Appropriation Bill 2011. The
House took up financial heads under Finance and Planning and State
Resources Enterprise Development Ministries and Good Governance and
Infrastructure, Human Resource, Rural Affairs, Urban Affairs, Consumer
Welfare, Scientific Affairs, International Monetary Cooperation,
National Resources, Food and Nutrition and Social Welfare Senior
Ministries for debate.
*Ravi Karunanayake (UNP): The Government is misguiding the
people. The value of the Rupee has depreciated. This proves that the
Governmentís financial policy is not positive.
Today Greece, Ireland, Portugal and many other European countries are
running under hard conditions. Their economies have collapsed. Obama has
said that salaries cannot be increased for another two years. This is
because there is a severe collapse in the economic sector.
As a small country, Sri Lanka should be more careful in handling
economic policies. One special characteristic of this Budget is that the
expenditure is bigger than the revenue. Can a family bear Rs 100,000
when its income is about Rs 10,000. The Government goes after foreign
aid and loans desperately.
The Government cannot pay salaries but they can tarnish the image of
the UNP. We are here not to protect the Government but to protect the
International Monetary Cooperation Senior Minister Sarath
Amunugama: Today is the last day of the debate on the Appropriation
Bill and therefore as a tradition we take up the Finance Ministry today.
We are placed in a good position today when considering global
economic trends and local economic trends. This is an advantage to the
country. It is useless to debate about past policies.
The economic growth was 3.5 percent and this has been increasing up
to eight percent now. The economic growth in the latter half of the year
is highly appreciable. Industrial service and agricultural sectors have
shown considerable development.
Today, there is a large queue to purchase vehicles. There is a high
demand for electrical and electronic goods. Signs of a transformation
are clearly visible.
We have to grasp opportunities and we have to take the best use of
prevailing global economic opportunities. Mahinda Chintana policy aims
at this task. The President is directly supervising the financial sector
of the country and giving instructions when necessary.
The chicken industry experienced a collapse in some areas such as
Ja-Ela and Wattala. Therefore we import chicken to suit the requirement.
It takes some time to restore this sector.
The per capita income is US $ 2,042. Our view is to increase it to US
$ 4,000 by 2012.
*Deputy Speaker Chandima Weerakkody takes the Chair
After six years, the income of all the people will be increased. We
have to develop every corner of the country equally to reach the aim.
The Government has to allocate money to improve infrastructure
facilities and to enhance productivity. The agrarian sector improved
dramatically. When you travel in the North and the East you see
cultivated paddy fields which were abandoned earlier.
We know farmers in Jaffna are the most skilful. Their products
contribute to the national economy now. They faced difficulties earlier.
The UNP speaks of them. The UNP gave hauls of weapons to Prabhakaran.
They were delivered with a letter addressed to Prabhakaran. What was
noted in the letter? The letter addressed to Prabhakaran said to kill
Lieutenant Pitigala who was in-charge of the haul of weapons once it was
Now, rural areas are emerging. Two years ago, 50 percent of the GDP
was contributed by the Western Province. But the situation is changing.
The contribution of other areas is increasing.
Each Wasama is provided one million rupees for development. There are
14,000 Wasam. During the UNP regime, Rs 15,000 was given to a Wasama.
Roads in rural areas are developed. No body in the Opposition speaks of
The UNP served only to Colombo. What did the UNP Leader asked us to
do? He asked us to abandon paddy cultivation and import rice.
*P Ariyanethiran (TNA): If good governance was practised the
people would have better opportunities. But racial discrimination made
lives of our people difficult. You say the LTTE was eliminated. Then,
why do you still have laws to suppress the LTTE.
We are not going to vote against the Budget, although there are many
requests to vote against we obtain from voting.
*Finance and Planning Deputy Minister Geethanjana Gunawardena:
As a result of the economic policy adopted by President Mahinda
Rajapaksa, the economic development was maintained during recent years
at a rate of seven to eight percent despite the global economic recess.
There were mega development projects initiated including
Norochcholai, Kerawalapitiya power plants, Hambantota Harbour, Mattala
Airport, road network, etc.
Seventy-one percent of the allocations made to the Defence Ministry
is to pay the salaries of the servicemen in the Three Forces and the
Police who made various sacrifices to unite the nation. Now, those
servicemen are engaged in de-mining with their hands to make a
convenient environment for the public. Servicemen are also engaged in
various development projects to uplift the countryís economy. On the
other hand, 1.2 million square kilometres in the sea bed where we
explore for petroleum is looked after by the Forces.
The allocation made for the Defence Ministry is an allocation made
for the future of the country and allocation made for the generation to
The UNP is not considering these positive sides of the allocations.
The allocations made for the Defence Head is utilized for the Urban
Development Authority, Hambantota Development, Coast Conservation as
We canít forget the incident in 1973 in Chile. The President who was
elected by the public was killed.
General Augusto Pinochet was made President. We wonít allow this
history to repeat in Sri Lanka.
Still, there are conspiracies. President Mahinda Rajapaksa went to
Oxford to tell the story of freedom. It was cancelled. A few of our
people including Members have supported those protest.
*Eran Wickramaratne (UNP): This Budget has not provided relief
for the people. The allocation made for the Education and Health sectors
are not adequate. This economic policy increases the inflation rate
affecting the poor in the country.
*Deputy Speaker Chandima Weerakkody: I like to announce a
delegation from Australian Parliament has arrived, to visit Sri Lankan
Parliament. We welcome them who are in the Speakerís Gallery.
The Members in the Government and Opposition thumped the tables in
*A H M Azwer takes the Chair.
*S Alantin (UPFA): Most of the resettlers in the North are
unemployed. They depend on relief provided by the Government. It is
necessary to formulate a mechanism to provide them employment
opportunities. Villages in the North and East are backward in
The entire northern region was completely destroyed by the war.
Additional funds are required to rebuild the north and bring back
normalcy to the region. A number of vacancies are existing in the
Education Department of the North. They need to be filled to uplift the
education system in the North.
*M H A Haleem (UNP): The Government provides facilities for
Muslim devotees visiting Macca for the Hajj festival. The responsibility
of organising Hajj Pilgrimage was rendered with Minister Fowzi last
year. This year, a special committee was appointed to organise the
pilgrimage. The responsibilities of this committee were providing
required facilities, arranging visas and coordinating the activities of
Muslim devotees. But this committee has failed in organising the
pilgrimage successfully. Devotees attending the pilgrimage had to face
many difficulties. The committee members arrived in the country without
fulfilling their responsibilities.
*Technology and Research Deputy Minister Faizer Musthapha: All
required facilities including food, transport, rooms were provided for
devotees. We cut off unnecessary expenses due to proper coordination and
organising of the pilgrimage. It paved the way to provide more chances
for poor people as well.
*V S Radhakrishnan (UPFA): Living standards of the people of
the country are gradually increasing due to many fruitful decisions
taken by the Government. An environment conducive for the investment has
been created in the country after the end of the war. Foreign investors
are arriving in the country due to this.
The upcountry is being developed through many development plans. But
salary anomalies of plantation workers have not been rectified. I expect
that the President will take measures to overcome this problem.
*Anura Kumara Dissanayake (DNA): Democracy doesnít exsist in
the country. The economy and politics of the country have been converted
into casino economy and casino politics. Our culture has become a casino
culture with the passing of the Casino Act in Parliament.
Today, only three or four people handle the whole economic and
administrative structure in the entire country. Corruption, malpractice
and bribes are main features of the casino culture emerging in Sri
Speaker thanks all
Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa concluding the budget debate yesterday in
Parliament thanked President Mahinda Rajapaksa for arriving at the house
to present the budget and to make the final speech in the budget debate
in his capacity as the Finance and Planning Minister.
He thanked Government and Opposition MPs including Prime Minister D M
Jayaratne, Deputy Speaker Chandima Weerakkody and Deputy Chairman of
Committees Chandrakumar Murugesu for the cooperation extended to make
the budget debate a success with valuable suggestions for improvement.
He thanked the Parliamentary Staff, Officers of the Ministries including
Secretaries to the Ministers, media personnel, all institutions attached
to Parliament, security forces and Police for the support received in
conducting the budget debate. The Speaker also extended Christmas and
New Year wishes to all.
Leader of the House and Irrigation and Water Resources Management
Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva extended his gratitude to all who
dedicated to conduct the budget debate in a successful note including
the Speaker. He appreciated labour and time of all during parliamentary
sessions during the Budget debate which continued for 16 days.
Chief Opposition Whip John Amaratunga on behalf of the opposition
also extended his gratitude for everybody who supported during the
Corrupt heads vanish
Senior Minister D E W Gunasekara told Parliament yesterday that heads
of several Government statuary bodies, who have corruption charges
against them have left the country.
The Minister said that permission should be given by the Speaker to
enable these persons to be summoned before the Parliamentary Committee
on Public Enterprise (COPE) even if they reside abroad.
He said the auditing in Government Corporations and Boards was very
The power vested with the Cabinet has been taken out and given to a
Senior politicians were disregarded and neglected. It is reported
that one politician is behind the Casino deal.
*Scientific Affairs Senior Minister Prof Tissa Vitarana: Anura
Dissanayake MP talked about a casino political system. There was a
casino liberal economic policy in the country and it was the UNP which
introduced it. Today, the foundation needed to change this economic
policy has been laid by the President under Mahinda Chintana policy.
Some say that the number of Ministers are too much. The senior
ministerial portfolios are introduced to establish a better coordination
among Ministries which are coming under one broad subject and to take
that responsibility as a whole. I am happy to work as the Scientific
Affairs Senior Minister.
I must answer to Iran Wickramaratne too. I think that he addressed
the House in English to attract the attention of the international
community to his speech. High amount of foreign reserves shows the high
confidence of the international community on us. Foreign investors
become more and more confident when there is a high amount of foreign
reserves. Therefore I request him not to make this kind of statements in
favour of foreign people who are opposed to us.
*Estate Resources and Enterprise Development Deputy Minister
Sarath Kumara Gunaratne: This was a newly created ministerial
portfolio and we have developed it to be a very important ministry
today. We have been capable of converting plantation industries which
were running at a loss to profit gaining industries.
Today, those who were working in foreign countries are now coming
back to the country to support plantation industries by investing. Both
local and foreign investments flow into the country.
The Eppawala phosphate deposit has changed into a profit earning
avenue with the implementation of a project to supply fertilizer to the
Laksala and Salu Sala are now revived. Programs to strengthen them
are being implemented.
Let us be united as Sri Lankans disregarding party, ethnicity and
other differences among us to work for the country.
*Lakshman Kiriella (UNP): Many Government members spoke about
development today. It is clear that most of them brought out their
expectations about development.
The prices of essential items are going up. If development happens
the people should feel it. The statistics presented by the Government
That is why even foreign investors do not come to our country.
Employment opportunities have decreased.
*Human Resources Senior Minister D E W Gunasekere: Most of the
Opposition members brought out the same facts that they brought out in
the Second Reading of the Budget.
They have forgotten that there is a difference between the Second
Reading and the Committee Stage.
None of them referred to a specific department and debated about its
financial allocations. Most of the issues pointed out by the Opposition
members have been answered by the Government. There was only one new
point in member Kiriellaís speech. That is the claims that the
statistics presented to this Parliament are not correct. I think it is
for the first time in history that such a criticism was directed.
There may be minute changes in calculations but as a whole they are
correct. Accepting them or not is upto him.
Consider economic factors one by one. Do not they show positive
results? We endeavoured to improve all aspects gradually since 2001.
Today, the balance of power in the world and economic power of the
world have been changing. We have to understand this. We have to explore
new markets in the world. That is what we are doing now. Administration
of State institutions is made more transparent. Annual reports are
published and internal audits have been conducted in almost all
*Dayasiri Jayasekara (UNP): I agree about the facts presented
about COPE by Senior Minister D E W Gunasekara and I honour him over his
great service to lead to the COPE. However, I regret that they are made
Senior Ministers and that a Vishramapaya is created for them.
The Mihin Air suffers a loss today. Why does the Government run such
institutions? You sold the Shell Gas in 1995 and then bought it back.
*Shantha Bandara (UPFA) takes the Chair State Resources and
Enterprises Development Minister Dayashritha Tissera:
Due to the terrorist menace, we could not operate industries and
factories in North and East. Under new light, we have taken initiatives
to commence the operation of those factories and industries, thus
bringing prosperity to the people in those areas. We have planned to
establish State Resources Management Corporation to take all these
institutions as a whole to find solutions.
*Deputy Speaker Chandima Weerakkody takes the Chair
*Mawai Senadhirajah (TNA): There are voluntary teachers at
schools in our areas. But no proposals have been made about them in this
Budget. I think some kind of solution should be given to them.
Allocations should be equally divided into all Provinces.
*Social Services Minister Felix Perera: Dayasiri Jayasekera
said the economic policy is deteriorating but we have to say is that the
popularity of UNP is deteriorating.
The EPF and ETF are deposited in the Central Bank. So the
beneficiaries will get extra money when they retire. But that money is
circulated in our country.
The Hambantota Port is constructed not only for Hambantota but for
the entire country.
Bangladesh is exporting Rs 12.5 billion worth garments. The raw
materials are imported in ships and those mother ships cannot go there.
If we can get those ships to Hambantota within two or three years we can
settle the loan we got for Hambantota Port construction.
*Vijayakala Maheshwaran (UNP): The decentralized Budget
provides five million rupees for a Parliamentarian annually. But this
amount is not enough for the Members in North and East. So I suggest an
adequate amount of money should be allocated for Members in those areas.
*Harsha de Silva (UNP): Geethanjana Gunawardena talked of my
grandfather M W de Silva. Their father and my grandfather were Members
in the Cabinet of SWRD Bandaranaike Government. My grandfather resigned
as his father Philip Gunawardena was forced to resign. I am not
*Rehabilitation and Prison Reforms Minister Chandrasiri
Gajadheera: It was during the UNP regime that the highest debt rate
was reported in 2002. We reduced the debt rate through proper financial
strategies. But the Opposition never appreciated this achievement.
The Government has handled the economic policies in a transparent
manner. That is why the country is marching towards economic prosperity.
We have an accurate vision to see future targets. Through this
far-sighted policies, the country will achieve development goals easily.
*Harin Fernando (UNP): The Government must accept constructive
criticisms made by the Opposition. You must improve your tolerance if
you are going on a journey of achieving targets. The Government will not
be able to be the Wonder of Asia unless Government Members listen to the
The State expenses are much higher than the State revenue. The
interest rate payments of the loans obtained by the Government is also
very high. So the people have to shoulder those burdens.
*Economic Development Deputy Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena:The
Government achieved a considerable economic growth within the last two
years. It is proved with achieving a 7.1 percent economic growth rate in
the first quarter of this year. It is the UNP that privatized 44 State
We never sold any State organization to the private sector. What we
did was taking steps to revive all State institutions. Wijayadasa
Rajapaksa (UNP): The Government said that it is in the process of
creating an advanced political culture. How would you create an advanced
political culture without listening to the Opposition. The Government is
trying to convert the country into the Wonder of Asia. How can you
create a developed country, with the highest debt rate, highest poverty
rate and low-living standards.
*Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa takes the Chair. Education Minister
This budget symbolises the turning point of the country. However, we
do not see a meaningful engagement by the Opposition in this budget.
The opposition asked how many people obtain the per capita income in
the country. The per capita income is calculated by during total income
by the population. When this is calculated even a child who is less than
one year is counted in arriving at the per capita income.
However, all know that they are not contributing to the income of the
country. The logic of the opposition cannot be accepted.
The hike of prices of essential items cannot be solved just by
shouting. Today, we have been able to maintain stable prices for many
items. The value of the Rupee has become stable.We can attain a
wonderful revolutionally change in macro-economics with the correct
policies followed by the government.
The country has high rates of literacy and high ranks in health
indices. If the allocations are not sufficient for education and health,
how can these sectors show such positive results? Massive development
projects are also being implemented in the country and airports, ports
and flyovers are being built in the country.
Financial heads were passed with amendments. The House was adjourned
until 9.30 am on January 4.