Budget 2024: Voting on Second Reading to be held today

(LANKAPUVATH | COLOMBO) – The voting on the Second Reading of 2024 Appropriation Bill, or the 78th Budget Speech, is scheduled to be held this evening (Nov.21).

The budgetary proposals for the fiscal year 2024 were presented to the House by President Ranil Wickremesinghe on November 13, in his capacity as the Minister of Finance, Economic Stabilization & National Policies.

The debate on Second Reading of the 2024 Budget, which commenced the following day, enters Day 7 today.

Meanwhile, it has been decided to hold the Committee Stage or the Third Reading debate for 19 days from tomorrow (Nov.22) until December.13, excluding Sundays. Thereafter, the vote on the Third Reading of the budget for the financial year 2024 is fixed to be held at 6:00 p.m. on December 13, 2023.

In his speech, President Wickremesinghe had underscored the transformative nature of the 2024 Budget, positioning it as a pivotal step towards shaping the country’s future and establishing a modern economic framework aligned with global trends.

He called for cooperation from all political parties, transcending partisan boundaries to collectively forge a new path for the nation through the proposed program.

In the 2024 Budget, themed “A Prelude to a Bright Future”, the Sri Lankan government has projected ambitious revenue and budget deficit targets.

The budget deficit for the fiscal year 2024 is estimated at Rs. 2,851 billion, or 9.1 as a percentage of the GDP. This is higher than the revised 8.5% of GDP in the current year. The original target for 2023 was 7.9%.

The total projected revenue will be Rs. 4,107 billion (including tax revenue of Rs. 3,820 billion) while the total expenditure for next year is set at a record Rs. 6,978 billion, an increase of nearly 33% compared to 2023, with capital expenditure more than doubling and Rs. 450 billion reserved for bank recapitalization.

In the 78th Budget, the Sri Lankan government has allocated Rs. 5,277 billion for recurring expenditures such as subsidies and salary payments. For salaries and wages, Rs. 1,127 billion has been earmarked, and Rs. 1,158 billion for subsidies and transfers.

The Sri Lankan government has also reserved a staggering Rs. 3,000 billion to restructure foreign debt and to repay international sovereign bonds in 2024. He also proposed to raise the debt ceiling by Rs. 3,450 billion to Rs. 7,350 billion, from Rs. 3,900 billion.

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