The State Tax Revenue has doubled within three years from 2014, Megapolis and Western Development Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka said.
The Minister, opening the Second Reading debate of Budget 2018 on the second allotted day in Parliament on Saturday, pointed out that reversing the years of downward trend in tax revenue was a significant achievement of the Government.
“In 2014, the total State Tax Revenue stood at Rs.1,050 billion. The estimated state revenue for 2018 is Rs 2,034 billion. The gradual drop in state revenue had been a worrying factor of our economy for many years. The Finance Ministry, the President and the Prime Minister must be congratulated for reversing it,” Minister Ranawaka said. He pointed out that Sri Lanka, after many decades, has been able to show a ‘positive primary budget balance’ indicating that the country can manage its expenditure from the income it earns when the debt repayment has been excluded.
“Our economy has been balanced now. The loans we obtained are to repay the excessive debts obtained during the last regime. Out of the total estimated expenditure of Rs.4,079 billion for next year, Rs. 1,970 billion is for debt servicing,” he explained.
As the peak of debt repayments comes in 2018-2020, the Minister observed, the Government will have a hard time balancing the economy and preparing for crucial national elections at the same time.
“The debt burden will ease by 2022-2023. This Government is saddled with the most difficult period, the country has ever been in, on the fiscal front,” he noted.
The Minister, commending the budget proposal to bring down the prices of electric cars, however, pointed out charging them during the peak hours must be discouraged.
“If people start charging them between 6.30 p.m. to 9 p.m., the peak-demand will go up, burdening the CEB more. Charging of electric vehicles must be done only after 9.30 p.m.,” he suggested.
Minister Ranawaka also lauded the tax on polythene as a progressive move, while proposing to use the additional revenue of Rs. 2 billion expected from it for solid waste management projects.