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‘Subsidies worth Rs.140 b granted to various sectors’


Minister Lakshman Yapa

The government is spending Rs140 billion annually for subsidies for various sectors of the public, said acting Mass Media and Information Minister and Economic Development Deputy Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena.

Addressing the weekly Cabinet press briefing held at the Information Department yesterday, the acting minister pointed out that the total revenue of the government is Rs 1000 billion per year, and of this amount Rs 140 billion is given as subsidies.

He observed that there is no need for the public to take to the streets in protest because the government has already been addressing their problems. He noted that with an eight percent economic growth, the country recorded its lowest inflation rate of 3.8 percent last month. He observed that the prices of vegetables and rice are stable while the unemployment rate is at an all time low at present.

The minister also observed that the government only released a share of the government's excess burden to the people by increasing the fuel prices on par with world oil prices. He said that the government ensured that this increase would not affect the lower segments of society. He said that needy communities,such as, fishermen and families who obtain light from kerosene are being provided with the necessary fuel subsidies. The government spends about Rs 250 million for the kerosene subsidy.

He also said that the government had spent Rs 29,800 million for the fertilizer subsidy and Rs 9,000 million for Samurdhi in 2011. The government has increased the money allocated for the fertilizer subsidy up to Rs 33,800 million and the Samurdhi for Rs 12,000 million for the year 2012.

He said that the government's subsidy schemes would not affect the budget deficit. The government has planned to cut down the expenses in every field except development and subsidy. Accordingly the government has decided to cut down the expenses of administrative and other fields approximately by 9 percent taking the crisis situation into consideration. The government also anticipates to improve the revenue from tourism this year.

He also revealed that the government has planned to initiate community development projects under the Divi Neguma programme in each 14,000 Grama Niladari Divisions (GND) on March 10 with the participation of all relevant authorities. The government has facilitated Rs 1 million for each GND for this programme.

The government would also select three family units from each GND and would introduce cash crops to them under the Divi Neguma programme.

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