Minister Basil Rajapaksa presents maiden Budget
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and Leader of the House Education Minister Dinesh Gunawardena listen attentively as Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa delivers the Budget speech in Parliament yesterday. Pictures by Sulochana Gamage
The second Budget proposals during the tenure of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and the maiden budget proposals of Basil Rajapaksa as the Finance Minister were presented in Parliament yesterday.
The long-awaited budget proposals for the Financial Year 2022 presented during a global pandemic were applauded by Government and Opposition Members from time to time.
The Second Reading of the Budget for the Financial Year 2022 was presented following Parliament sittings that commenced at 2 p.m. presided by Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena.
Leader of the House and Education Minister Dinesh Gunawardena presented the Notice of Motions and Orders of the Day. Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa arrived in the House amidst the thumping of the Members on their desks. Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa was already in his seat and a minute later President Gotabaya Rajapaksa too arrived to listen to the budget speech.
“The budget proposals are being presented at a time when the country is grappling with five global challenges,” the Finance Minister said. The Government Members applauded when the Minister assured that the Government however had the confidence and the strength to face the challenges as well as to drive the country forward out of this predicament. They continued to thump on the desks when the Minister said that the confidence is strengthened with the valiant leader of the country who stands against corruption and fraud and the two thirds majority in Parliament.
The Members applauded when the Finance Minister said that the Government expenditure is proposed to be reduced by Rs.33 billion in 2022 compared to 2021.
The Government side as well as the Opposition side endorsed the proposal of increasing the service period of Parliamentarians to 10 years to be eligible for the pension. He added that it would apply to the President’s tenures as well.
The Members of both sides appreciated the proposal to provide 5G technology through fibre optic connections to all 10,155 schools in the country to enhance the quality of education as well as the allocation of Rs. 30,000 million to rectify the salary anomalies of the government school teachers. The Finance Minister said that none of the TV and Radio Frequencies had been allocated under the Government of which they were part and parcel of. He proposed that the allocation of TV and Radio frequencies takes place via an open tender process as frequencies are considered public property. He said the Government would not sell the frequencies in a non-transparent manner.
UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe and Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa who were not present at the commencement of the budget speech arrived later. TNA leader R. Sampathan and JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake were present at the time of the commencement of the budget speech.
The budget speech was suspended for ten minutes at 3.37 p.m. and resumed at 4.03 p.m. The budget speech wound up at 4.35 p.m. and sittings adjourned until 9.30 am today when the budget debate will begin.