Our Economic Policy for Sri Lanka

New economic policy framework of this government is to take the country forward for the betterment of our children and the future generations to come

by Namal Rajapaksa

(December 3, 2018, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) When my father Hon. Mahinda Rajapaksa took oaths as the new Prime Minister of Sri Lanka on Oct 26, it was a time the country was already facing a severe economic crisis whilst the cost of living was a burden to us all.

For three years, when the UNP were in government, Hon Rajapaksa sat in the opposition benches, and watched while the UNP MPs including Hon. Ranil Wickremesinghe only kept raising the prices of all basic and essential items.

When questioned, each MP came up with a different excuse.

The country had no proper economic policies in place and there were no concessions offered. Every sector bared the brunt of the weak policies of the UNP whilst their ministers only benefited through back door deals.

Today, despite all the criticism and opposition Prime Minister Rajapaksa is facing from the UNF Alliance who severely failed each and every one of us, my father, Prime Minister Rajapaksa and President Maithripala Sirisena have a government in place.

Prime Minister Rajapaksa, in his special statement in Parliament recently said he took over as he could not bear to see the hardships faced by each one of you. We all had suffered enough these past three years.

Today, just over a month since being in government there have been several concessions already put in place by the new government. These concessions, which I have mentioned below, will benefit all sectors and each citizen, from those living below the poverty line and those who are contributing immensely towards the economy of this country. I have listed the concessions in detail below.


A Special Commodity Levy was reduced on Dhal (Lentil) by Rs.5 per kg, Yellow Dhal (Watana) by Rs.10 per kg, Chickpeas by Rs. 5 per kg, Black Gram by Rs.25 per kg and Sugar by Rs.10 per kg. Customs Duty was also waived on wheat grain effectively reducing import cost by Rs.9 per kg.

Price of Petrol (Octane 92) was reduced by Rs.10 per liter, Auto Diesel by Rs. Rs.7 per liter and Lubricants by Rs.10 per liter to reduce operational cost on transport, agriculture, and fisheries sectors.

The monthly pricing formula for price adjustment has abandoned and likely to be replaced by administered pricing based on cost to provide price stability.

The VAT threshold has been increased from Rs.12 million per annum to Rs.24 million per annum, to relieve small times businesses from VAT from Jan 1, 2019.

The threshold for the VAT liability of wholesale and retail sector also to be increased from Rs.50 million to Rs.100 million per 12 months providing benefits to small traders and businesses from Jan 1, 2019.

The VAT rate applicable on the import of Sawn Timber reduced to 5 PCT to support the local construction industry from Nov 1, 2018.

VAT on import of fabric exempted providing benefits to the small and medium garment manufacturers catering the local market from Nov 1, 2018.

The Telecommunication Levy of 25 PCT was reduced to 15 PCT.

Agriculture and Farmers

A guaranteed price scheme was introduced for Paddy, Onion and Potatoes produced locally. SCL is expected to raise during harvesting period and reduce during off harvesting period to protect farmers through remunerative prices.

Interest and the penal interest charged on farmers and small paddy mill owners on loans up to a maximum of Rs.50 million by all commercial banks during the past three years is to be written off in full and will be borne by the government to infuse greater liquidity to agriculture in the 2018/201 Maha cultivation season which has commenced with favorable weather.

The maximum threshold on loan advances given by Samurdhi Banks to low income households (Samurdhi beneficiaries) to support their livelihood activities was increased by Rs.10,000.

Fertilizer prices for Paddy to be maintained at Rs.500/50 kilo bag to support food production and plantation agriculture.

The income of individuals from agriculure undertakings to be reduced from the current rate of 24 PCT to 14 PCT to encourage farming, agriculture effective from April 1, 2019.

Agriculture income from cultivation from any agriculture produced such as tea, coconut, rubber, paddy, fruits, vegetables are exempted from income taxation for a period of 5 year period.

Taxation on agricultural processing industries to be reduced from 28 PCT to 14 PCT.

Small Businesses

Threshold income for the economic service charge to be increased from 12.5 million per quarter to Rs.50 million per quarter.

Loans raised by women in drought affected districts from micro finance institutions up to Rs.100,000 to be written off.

Professionals and Individual Tax Payers

The income Tax rate for professional services and individuals was also reduced from 24 PCT to 14 PCT effective from 1 April, 2019.

Children, Senior Citizens

Interest income of children’s deposits under 18 years of age is exempted.

These concessions are the immediate concessions offered to the public. In addition the government is also working at attracting large scale foreign investments and is looking at infrastructural development, such as the construction of fresh highways, build more roads etc, so that we as a nation can be in par with other countries in the region.

While the UNF remains steadfast to continue the political instability, we as a government have begun our work. We have wasted too much time already. We will not let the people suffer anymore.

While we, the SLPP will also continue our call for a General Election, to have a stronger, larger government in place, we call on each and every one of you to support us. Support Prime Minister Rajapaksa. Support his call for a General Election. It is time we as a nation move forward for the betterment of our children and the future generations to come.

( The writer is a member of the Parliament, Government of Sri Lanka. Views expressed in this article are the author's own)

Post a Comment