This budget is overwhelmingly significant because of government`s groundbreaking efforts to make country a green and enforce the policies which are obviously aligned with in international agreements over climate change.
by Kalana Krishantha
( November 10, 2017, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) On 9th of November 2017, Sri Lankan Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera presented the relatively eco-friendly and sustainable budget for year 2018, when we compare that with previous years. He introduced the new budget as a blue green budget.
“It is “Blue” because we plan to integrate the full economic potential of ocean related activities in formulating the overall growth strategy. It is “Green” because we build our economy on an environmentally sustainable development strategy.” Minister said.
There are so may preventive, proactive and progressive budget proposals which can contribute country to go towards sustainable development through blue green economy. As a first Asian country to sign the Paris convention of climate changes, it should be appreciated that government`s gradual movement towards environmental conservation and act according to international conventions on environmental conversations and climatic changes what Sri Lanka had signed and ratified earlier.
There are so many proposals related with the way towards the sustainable development. Let’s consider few of them.
Minister revealed that all vehicles in the country would be powered by non-fossil fuel sources by 2040 and all government vehicles would be converted to hybrid or electric vehicles by 2025.That can be considered as the massive forward bias step towards the blue green economy. Even UNFCC and related Kyoto Convention and also Paris climate convention emphasizing the need of low carbon consumption and gradual depletion of it. And the concept of affordable and clean energy is the seventh SDG of UN.
“As such, the taxes on the importation of electric vehicles including electric three wheelers, cars and buses will be reduced,” Minister added. It seems like government is trying to encourage the usage of electric vehicles. And there are proposals to increase the number of electric charging stations of the country and put a special “carbon taxes” for traditional fuel combusting vehicles. The import tax on the high end fossil fueled cars will be increased by almost Rs. 2.5 million to discourage the carbon consumption.
To maintain a tourism-friendly environment, Minister Samaraweera said Sri Lanka would upgrade railway stations in key tourist locations, upgrade home stay facilities, promote eco-tourism, and establish a tourism-friendly tuk-tuk program for the safety of tourists.
“Coastal area from Mount Lavinia to Ratmalana will be renovated. We have allocated Rs. 400 million. We will build a bund and ensure the environment in the area is protected. “Minister said. While conserving the coastal areas, government is going to utilize aquatic resources based on ocean towards the economic development, generally what we call as a “blue economy”, the famous concept, but yet to be implemented in Sri Lanka.
In Sri Lanka, also like many other Asian countries, there have been various troubles in regional, urban and municipal environmental management. While addressing those issues, there are significant budget proposals. Rs. 1,500 million will be allocated to establish green areas in each Pradeshiya Saba areas. Government will introduce environmental friendly programs when dumping in the Kelani River. “We are looking at expanding programs which are concentrated on flooding in urban areas. We will construct several reservoirs to stop the flooding of urban areas.”, Finance Minister revealed.
“We have allocated Rs. 75 billion for loans to produce environmentally friendly items. We will impose an excise duty of Rs. 10 per kilogram for Plastic resins.” Minister added. Plastic and polythene can be considered as the one of the main enemies to soil conservation. New budget is addressing the issue in a progressive manner.
“We will establish an elephant research center in Pinnawala. We have allocated Rs. 20 million for programs to protect endangered animals. We have not forgotten about the animals in this budget. Therefore, we are looking at converting zoos in an open zoo concept. We have allocated Rs. 75 billion for this.” Minister Samaraweera Said-Something which can give rise to the happiness of animal lovers. And as a country who signed to the CITEC convention, the proposal to protect the endangered species should be appreciated.
This budget is overwhelmingly significant because of government`s groundbreaking efforts to make country a green and enforce the policies which are obviously aligned with in international agreements over climate change. Anyway to implement the proposals of budget, first parliament should approve it. Final vote will be held on upcoming December.