Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake said the government targets a fiscal deficit of 3.5 percent of GDP by 2020, while it has planned to reduce the deficit to 4.7 percent next year from a targeted 5.4 percent in 2016.
The economy inherited was not an easy one for any Finance Minister to manage due to public debts in excess of Rs.9.9 trillion plus Rs.1.2 trillion in debts off the balance sheet. However, with strict financial discipline, the government has been able to pay attention to financial consolidation and reducing the budget deficit, he said.
Mr. Karunanayake will present the third budget of the National Unity Government of President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe this afternoon in Parliament. This will be the 70th Budget of independent Sri Lanka.
“GDP had increased to Rs.11,183 billion (US$ 82.3 B.) in 2015, from Rs.6,414 billion (US$ 56.7B.) in 2010. Sri Lanka has a new phenomenon in its expenditure chain, in that a sizeable proportion goes for social welfare and subsidies. Next year’s budget will allocate around Rs 380 billion to welfare and subsidies,” he said.
Mr. Karunmanayake said Budget 2017 would be a pro-growth budget and focus on countering the deficiencies of the past several years. Accordingly, the budget would have proposals to rectify all existing anomalies -- to deal with the export sector to create jobs.
“It will cover all sectors of the economy and will be beneficial to the people in the short term as well as the long term,” he said, outlining his budget.
Once the Budget is presented in the Parliament on Thursday the debate on the second reading and the committee stage will continue till December 10. (Sandun A Jayasekera)