The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) complains bitterly that the Budget allocations for the North and East aren’t sufficient. However the TNA offered its support to the Government a few days ago when the second reading of the Budget was made in Parliament.
The TNA has been a Government ally since the Wickremesinghe regime took over administration in the country. But the representatives of the collective of many political parities have had to face the criticisms of the Tamil people because not enough has been done in terms of development in the north and the east after the war concluded.
Before the second reading of the Budget there were doubts whether the 13 TNA parliamentarians would have supported the Government. But probably knowing the fact the Government would have pulled through even without their support, the TNA reps backed the Wickremesinghe Government at the second reading of the Budget.
The TNA’s argument is that despite allocations being made in previous Budgets no satisfactory work has been done in terms of development in the north.
Minister of Finance Mangala Samaraweera said that the Budget was a development oriented one. But what concerns the TNA is the fact that nothing has been specifically mentioned in the Budget in terms of post-war development.
For the record, there are elections scheduled this year and there are quite a number of displaced people still in the country who need to have permanent addresses to be eligible for a polling card.
However the Government through its 2019 Budget has made some allocations in the area of housing which can give those living in the northern and Eastern provinces some hope of having a roof over their heads in the future.
Finance Minister Samaraweera has said that the development taking place in the country is akin to a work site. But one must keep in mind that the contributions by the minority community are as important as those made by the majority Sinhalese towards the Gross Domestic Product. The future journey of a country like Sri Lanka however can be stifled if it doesn’t keep the minorities happy.
Samaraweera has been quoted in newspapers saying that the depreciation of the rupee stands at 2.8% per annum as at now. But he also states that the rupee deteriorated only by 39% during the period 2015-2018, adding however that the Government has been able to raise US$ 3476 million in terms of foreign exchange.
The TNA with its numbers in Parliament is still not a force. The 13 members in the Cabinet are of course vital in terms of a block vote. Hence the TNA needs to act wisely and obtain the maximum from the Government when offering its support to pass this Budget. But there are other Tamil politicians who are backing other mainstream parties like the UNP and a collective like the United People’s Alliance. There is also Mano Ganesan’s Democratic People’s Front and and former Northern Province Chief Minister C.V Vigneswaran who is now offering leadership to the Tamils through his newly formed Tamil People’s Alliance. Each of these political parties has its own agenda, but the Tamil people expect them to work towards the welfare of the Tamil minority.
The TNA is also in the meantime working closely with the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) in bringing in the 20th Amendment to the Constitution. This change will largely help abolish the Executive Presidency. It is interesting to see how these two minority parties muster the support of all other parties in the Cabinet to get this amendment passed in parliament.
Be that as it may the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (CCC) in a release has aired its concerns regarding the GDP growth estimates of the 2019 Budget; which covers the period 2019-2024. Going by the Budget speech made in Parliament, the CCC states that growth is expected to gradually rise from 3% in 2018 to 4.8 % in 2024. Hence CCC states that the estimated growth in the economy for the given period doesn’t give a signal for a positive business climate.
Following the committee stage debate of the Third Reading of the Budget, the vote on the Budget will take place on April 5.