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NewsRajapaksa Family Accounts For 56% of Expenditure:

Rajapaksa Family Accounts For 56% of Expenditure:

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[Out of nearly 100 ministers only  Rajapaksa family gets the lion’s share]

UNP National List lawmaker Eran Wickremaratne slammed the Government’s 2015 Budget, saying it was not worth the paper it was written on, after the UPFA moved drastic amendments to the numbers within 10 days of its presentation.

Addressing Parliament during the Third Reading of the UPFA’s 2015 Budget which passed with a 95-member majority on Monday evening, Wickremaratne charged that the ruling Rajapaksa family account for 56% of total Government expenditure.

Wickremaratne said the Budget had been presented on 24 October and the Government had moved amendments on 5 November, increasing expenditure by 356 billion rupees.

“The borrowing requirement was increased from Rs. 1,340 billion to Rs. 1,780 billion. The extent of the amendment to the Appropriation Bill within the space of about 10 days suggests that the Budget was not worth the paper on which it was written. How can one have confidence in the numbers presented?” he queried.
With the increased expenditure, the ratio of funds accounted for by the Rajapaksa family increased from 47% to 56%, the UNP MP claimed.

“This is the reason that people are defecting from the Government. It is a matter of trust. A few people around the Executive Presidency wield much power. Even Ministers elected by the public have been reduced to puppets. What is the point of Parliament if it has no control over Finance?” he charged.
Wickremaratne hit back against manipulation of the stock market, saying persons engaging in the manipulation were being protected by those wielding political power. “The day of the manipulator must come to an end. It is the excessive powers of the Executive Presidency that shields people from facing the consequences of breaking the law,” he noted.

Following are excerpts from MP Eran Wickremaratne’s speech:

The Budget speech was on 24 October. The allocation for expenditure was Rs. 2,209 billion, while the requirement was Rs. 2,378 billion. There was a short fall of Rs. 169 billion. There were promises that were made amounting to Rs. 182 billion without allocations.

On 5 November the Appropriation Bill was amended increasing expenditure by Rs. 356 billion. The borrowing requirement was increased from Rs. 1,340 billion to Rs. 1,780 billion. The extent of the amendment to the Appropriation Bill within the space of about 10 days suggests that the Budget was not worth the paper on which it was written. How can one have confidence in the numbers presented?

The increase of Rs. 356 billion was allocated as development activities, under the Department of National Budget of the Ministry of Finance and Planning
Why was not the increase in expenditure allocated to specific Ministries, for example, there was a shortage in allocation for Higher Education of Rs.13.5 billion? Why was it not allocated to the Ministry of Higher Education? Similarly, why were not funds directly allocated through the amendment to the Appropriation Bill to Health, Justice, Plantations, Fisheries, Social Services and so on? Instead the total increase was kept in the Ministry of Finance and Planning. This allows the Secretary, Deputy Secretary or the Director General to move the estimate to another line of expenditure without prior approval from Parliament. Discretion on expenditure has been retained by the Ministry of Finance.

The Ministries under the Rajapaksa family account for approximately 47% of total expenditure. But with the increased expenditure of Rs. 356 billion, the ratio has increased to 56% of total expenditure. This is the reason that people are defecting from the Government. It is a matter of trust. A few people around the Executive Presidency wield much power. Even Ministers elected by the public have been reduced to puppets. What is the point of Parliament if it has no control over Finance?

We were told during the Budget speech that the budget deficit had reduced overtime: From 5.9% in 2013, 5% in 2014 to an estimate of 4.6% in the 2015. But after the amendment to increase budget expenditure the deficit will rise to 7.7%. The drug distributor, the bar owner, the house of prostitution is protected by those wielding political powers in the village. The casino owners, the drug barons, those who manipulate the stock market, are being protected by those who wield political power.

The Employees’ Provident Fund is the hard earned, sweat-blood of the working people of this country. We will not allow any stock market manipulator to operate outside the law. We request utmost caution in the operation of the stock market. Two Security Exchange Commission Chairpersons have been relieved of their positions. Why? The day of the manipulator must come to an end. It is the excessive powers of the Executive Presidency that shields people from facing the consequences of breaking the law.

The rural farmer, and the brains of our university, the common candidate and the Leader of our party have come together to change the system. We are committed to building a new country, a new society, and strong economy. Country first, party second. Come join us on this journey.
FT

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