The vote for the Third Reading of the Budget 2019 which was presented by Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera under the the theme of 'Empowering the people;nurturing the poor' was passed today in Parliament with 119 votes in favour and 74 votes against.
Samaraweera in his wind up speech said that during the final days of 2018, Sri Lanka was in a precarious situation, the likes of which had never been seen in our post-independence history. Without a budget in place, Sri Lanka was within weeks of defaulting on sovereign debt for the first time in its history, the state was not in a position to pay salaries, pensions, and welfare payments, come January 1st 2019, he pointed out.
"The judiciary and independent institutions that our government helped foster, had the fortitude and resilience to stand up to the anti-democratic forces that grabbed power for 51 days," he said.
Samaraweera said that it has been an uphill battle to stabilize an economy that was in disarray by December 2018 and added that he was pleased to state that we have made significant progress towards this end.
"We are now seeing investments return to all aspects of our economy. There has been Rs. 10 billion net inflows of foreign investments into government securities since January, a strong recovery following the exodus of Rs. 57 billion during the 51-day crisis," he said.
As a result of the improved fundamentals, the rupee has now appreciated by 4.5% since January 2019.
"The Rupee is among the top 3 best performing currencies in the world in 2019", Samaraweera said.
Following 3 credit downgrades during the 51 day crisis and imminent debt default, the Finance Minister said that it was indeed creditable the way in which the government was able to regain the confidence of global markets and refinance at a favourable rate.
"Having stabilized the economy once again, the government’s priority now is to rejuvenate economic growth. Whilst Enterprise Sri Lanka’s concessional credit schemes are already stimulating small business investment with over Rs. 70 billion in new finance for SMEs and entrepreneurs, several other measures are being undertaken in parallel", he added.
Samaraweera also said that the Gampereliya programme is once again moving ahead at pace, with significant investments going into rural roads, rural markets, minor irrigation, places of worship, and other rural infrastructure.
"Gampereliya is directly injecting cash into the rural economy – it is doing so in a manner that builds the economic capacity of rural Sri Lanka, by improving connectivity to markets, enhancing drought resilience, and building other productive infrastructure", he said.