Gift Wrap

Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister is promising to give paid paternity leave, duty free vehicles for good taxpayers, free spectacles for the disable, and splash out billions of rupees by way of welfare subsidies, if he wins next month’s presidential poll, his party said Tuesday. Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister is promising to give paid paternity leave, duty free vehicles for good taxpayers, free spectacles for the disable, and splash out billions of rupees by way of welfare subsidies, if he wins next month’s presidential poll, his party said Tuesday. Premier Mahinda Rajapakse’s coalition party is banking on its subsidy heavy economic agenda to propel Sri Lanka to an eight percent growth next year, his economic advisor Nivard Cabraal told reporters during the launch of the party manifesto.

“We feel an eight percent growth is achievable next year. And the welfare measure in the manifesto will not be a burden on the budget. We have already got some assurances from donors like the Millennium Development Fund,” Cabraal explained.

Rajapakse 59, is against privatisation of key state enterprises – banks, power, energy and transport – but promises to restructure public enterprises to be on par with private sector.

But he promised to do his best to boost Colombo’s tiny bourse, one of the best performing indices in the world, which currently lacks big ticket government corporations on board to add depth to the market.

“We want to encourage local investors to list on the Colombo Stock Exchange and increase the number of new listings by 40 percent in six years,” the Rajapakse’s manifesto said.

Duty free vehicle permits are on offer for good taxpayers, migrant workers, senior government employees and media personnel – but for taxpayers the permit is limited to US$ 2,500.

Migrant workers will be taught computer, nursing and sailing skills in addition to getting concessional loans and pension. Their duty free allowance will also be raised to US$ 5,000.

Fuel subsidies are on the way for fisheries, bus and three wheeler owners. Those without electricity will get two litres of kerosene a month, while those falling under the low usage bracket, pick up vouchers for water and power.

New fathers pick up three days paid leave if they work for the government.

Disabled people also in for a plethora of goodies including free spectacles and Rs. 3,000 monthly allowance.

Socialist oriented Rajapakse is pitted against right wing main opposition leader Ranil Wickremesinghe in November 17 poll.

Thirteen candidates have signed up for the race but only one candidate so far – Ayurvedic doctor Victor Hettigoda – has pledged grassroot economics.

Click here for a copy of the
manifesto in English (PDF file/160k/approx – 30secs)

http://www.mahindarajapaksa.com

-LBO Newsdesk: lboemail@vanguardlk.com