Elephants Walk Out

Sri Lankas main opposition party, the United National Party, took a sudden decision to boycott Tuesday budget, citing its a mere academicals exercise, a senior party spokesman said.
“It was a sudden decision to boycott the budget, as there is no debate before the election next week,” UNP parliamentarian Rajitha Senerath said.rn

rnSri Lankas Finance Minister Sarath Amunugama began his customary budget speech around 2.15 pm local time, saying the country was poised to take off on a six percent growth plane.rn

rnThanks to tough measures, total government revenue will go up to 21 percent this year. “Income tax revenue is up 31 percent, VAT 19 percent, import tax 14 percent so far,” Amunugama said.rn

rnSri Lanka plans to spend more and borrow further next year as expenses for defence and fuel related subsidies escalate. rn

rnTotal state spending will rise 30 percent to Rs. 568.3 billion (US$ 5.6 billion) in 2006 from Rs. 438 billion budgeted for 2005, the government said in Oct., while tabling the budget appropriation bill for 2006 before parliament. rn

rnDefence spending will go up 23 percent to Rs. 69.4 billion next year, above Rs. 56.6 billion budgeted for this year (Rs. 52 billion spent in 2004). rn

rnOverall borrowing programme will expand by Rs. 100 billion to Rs. 536 billion, as the government leans further on foreign debt, rupee loans and government bonds. The programme excludes Rs. 300 billion ceiling set for borrowings through treasury bills. rn

rnThe appropriation bill does not include revenue estimates, but Finance Minister Sarath Amunugama will disclose the details as he reads out his speech today. rn