Member of Parliament Mr. Premnath C. Dolawatta, expressed that the aspirations of the opposition, who anticipated the public to fall from the frying pan into the fire, have been dashed by the provisions of the budget.
He underscored that this year’s budget not only brings relief to the public but also outlines effective measures for its provision, ensuring widespread approval during the voting process.
He made this sentiment during a press conference held at the Presidential Media Centre (PMC) today (20), under the theme ‘One Way to a Stable Country’.
The country’s attainment of stability is attributed to the government, led by President Ranil Wickremeinghe, which made unpopular but necessary non-political decisions amid the economic crisis. Additionally, the imminent receipt of the second loan instalment from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) further contributes to the economic recovery. This year’s budget has effectively dispelled the opposition’s apprehensions, demonstrating that relief for the people is a tangible outcome.
The budget for the current year encompasses proposals to raise government employee salaries, enhance allowances for kidney, disabled, and elderly citizens, and initiate a comprehensive program for providing free land to the people of hill-country and farmers. It also addresses the release of fallow land for agro-industrial activities and aims to expand higher education opportunities, focusing on cultivating professionals aligned with the demands of the modern world.
Mr. Dolawatta emphasized that economic development requires more than just concessions and necessitates a long-term strategy. The budget outlines plans to increase English language literacy by 2034 and proposes an increase in direct taxes.
Despite the opposition’s anticipation of public dissatisfaction, it has become evident that the government has surpassed mere promises of relief. This year’s budget outlines a comprehensive strategy for providing relief to the people. With the expectation of increased support, there is no doubt that the budget will secure more votes during the approval process. Mr. Dolawatta urged everyone, irrespective of personal political opinions, to unite with the government for the stability of the country and collectively progress on the path to victory.
Furthermore, a bill confirming 25% representation for the youth community in local government bodies was recently successfully passed in parliament. As the initiator of this private member’s proposal, this was submitted it despite the fact that women’s representation remained unchanged. In the face of severe criticism from sections of the opposition, including accusations and slanders, we persevered and successfully passed the bill through continuous efforts and sacrifices.
Nevertheless, the opposition, purportedly championing the cause of the youth community, exerted considerable effort to delay the passage of the bill. Their attempts aimed to defer it until after the budget, potentially resulting in a postponement until the subsequent year. This prompts questions about their genuine commitment to the youth community, as they proclaim. Nonetheless, by effectively reinstating the lost youth representation, there is satisfaction in affording young individuals the opportunity to emerge among the general populace of the country.
The President has indicated that the upcoming year will be an election year. Despite the Finance Ministry Secretary stating that there are financial constraints for elections, it is certain that economic stability will create a conducive atmosphere for holding elections. Consequently, the Election Commission will conduct the necessary elections in a timely manner.
Furthermore, despite the rise in the dollar’s value leading to increased prices of goods, there has been some control. However, there is a need to closely monitor illegal price increases related to goods and services and ensure that the public is benefiting from the decrease in the value of the dollar.
Additionally, there has been an initiative to safeguard the rights of the LGBTQ+ community. The opportunity was taken to present the matter to the next parliamentary affairs committee concerning the bill for the amendment of the Penal Code, submitted to the Parliament as a private member’s proposal. It is anticipated that a date for the second reading will be secured through this process.
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