Billions earmarked under Budget 2017 for agriculture, entrepreneurs, manufacturing and solar
The Finance Ministry is preparing to roll out a dozen loan schemes that would distribute over Rs. 2.5 billion through subsidising interests of select loan schemes that target agriculture, fisheries, transport and journalism among other sectors.
Budget 2017 earmarked the allocation of funds to 12 loans schemes that were subdivided into eight categories for ease of implementation. The Finance Ministry loan schemes, which were rubber stamped by Cabinet last week, cover a range of commitments made by the latest Budget.
Farmers are expected to benefit from Rs. 750 million in handouts under the ‘Ran Aswenna’ loan scheme while small-scale farmer organistions are eligible to apply for a loan up to Rs. 500, 000. Under ‘Jaya Isura’ Rs. 400 million is to be distributed to several sectors including the agriculture, fisheries, tourism and IT fields. The poultry sector is also likely to get a scheme of Rs. 75 million.
The smallest amount has been allocated is to improve transport for schoolchildren, which will get Rs. 4 million. Low-income families seeking to construct a house can get a loan of up to Rs. 200,000 while the ‘Rivi Bala Savi’ program allows households access to Rs. 350,000 if they are purchasing a solar panel system for domestic use.
The Government last week announced it has also earmarked Rs. 3.5 billion to pay 50% of the interest incurred by homeowners when applying for a loan to install a solar power grid onto their roofs. The new measure is aimed at encouraging homeowners who would otherwise be deterred by the higher prices of solar panels, Power and Renewable Energy Deputy Minister Ajith P. Perera told reporters.
Under a new scheme titled ‘Mehesara’, journalists can apply for loans up to Rs. 300,000 on easy payment terms.
Economic analysts have frequently pointed out that despite Sri Lanka’s macroeconomic concerns, governments have to periodically include a subsidy scheme to shore up popularity but could impact fiscal consolidation unless closely monitored. (Daily FT)