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Budget 2017: President gets more: Education less

The government yesterday presented to Parliament its estimated expenditure for the next year in which the expenses of the President’s office rose by three times while defence allocation has been pruned down.

The appropriation bill presented to Parliament by Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake has estimated the total government expenditure of over Rs 1,819 billion (Rs 1,819,544,000,000). The amount is a decrease when compared with the government expenditure in 2016 of Rs. 1,941 billion.

The limit on borrowings for 2017 has been set at Rs 1,489 billion (Rs 1,489,205,436,000).

The allocation to the President’s Office which was Rs 2.3 billion in 2016, has been increased to around Rs 6.4 billion (6,452,679,000) in the next financial year, indicating a three-fold increase. Of this amount, around Rs 1.9 billion will go towards Recurrent Expenditure, while the rest will be for Operational and Development activities under the President’s Office.

Defence Ministry Allocations for 2017 have taken a dip from the previous year, along with allocations made to the Ministry of Education.  The Defence Ministry allocation for 2017 is around Rs 284 billion (284,044,344,000), of which, around Rs 251 billion will go towards Recurrent Expenditure and around Rs 32.2 billion towards Capital Expenditure. In 2016, Defence allocation stood at more than Rs 306 billion, of which more than Rs 257.6 billion went towards Recurrent Expenditure,while Capital Expenditure was around Rs 48.9 billion. The Ministry of Mahaweli Development and Environment also coming under the purview of the President has been given a sum of Rs 57.6 billion (57,623,465,000).  In the appropriation bill for the year 2016, that ministry had been given Rs 69,495,807,000.

Allocation for the Ministry of Education, which saw a four-fold increase in the previous year’s appropriation bill with an amount around Rs 185.9 billion has been reduced drastically in the appropriation bill for the next year. The Ministry of Education has been allocated Rs 76.9 billion (76,943,719,000). Ministry of Higher Education has been allocated Rs 163.4 billion (163,404,738,000). In 2016’s allocation of that ministry was Rs 171.4 billion. Allocation made for the Ministry of Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine stands around Rs 160.9 billion (160,971,829,000). It is a decrease of around Rs 14 billion when compared to the allocation made in 2016 which gave the same ministry a sum of Rs 174,077,998,000.

The other big allocations are for the Ministries of Finance (Rs 242,806,451,000), Public Administration and Management (Rs 165,204,474,000), and Provincial Councils and Local Government (214,223,449,000).

The expenditure of the Prime Minister for the next year has been envisaged at Rs 1,255,271,000.

The least allocation has been made to Dr Sarath Amunugama’s Ministry of Special Assignment. It is Rs 118,254,000. Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka’s Ministry of Regional Development has been allocated only Rs 621,641,000 while Champika Ranawaka’s Megapolis and Western Development Ministry has been given Rs 15,805,629,000)

Among other allocations are Ministries of Buddha Sasana (Rs 1,869,974,000), National Policies and Economic Affairs (Rs 12,543,197,000), Disaster Management (Rs 4,611,893,000), Posts, Postal Services and Muslim Religious Affairs (12,550,159,000), Justice (Rs 10,230895,000), Foreign Affairs (Rs 9,689,139,000), Transport and Civil Aviation (51,299,087,000), Agriculture (Rs 21,394,174,000), Power and Renewable energy (Rs 1,048,757,000), Women and Child Affairs (Rs 2,698,667,000),  Home Affairs (Rs 44,542,850,000), Parliamentary Reforms and Mass Media (Rs 5,734,569,000), Housing and Construction (Rs 3,267,806,000), Social Empowerment and Welfare (Rs 16,249,622,000), Sports ( Rs 4,484,372,000), Industry and Commerce (Rs 9,921,384,000), Petroleum Resources Development (Rs 311,726,000), Lands (Rs 9,536,947,000), Rural Economic Affairs (Rs 8,330,200,000), National Dialogue (Rs 676,593,000),Public Enterprise Development (Rs 432,292,000), Tourism Development and Christian Religious Affairs (Rs 855,032,000), Sustainable Development and Wildlife (3,500,381,000), Internal Affairs, Wayamba Development and Cultural Affairs (7,928,456,000),  Ports and Shipping (Rs 2,362,955,000), Foreign Employment (Rs 695,022,000), Law and Order and Southern Development (Rs 68,394,883,000), Science, Technology and Research (Rs 4,276,935,000), Skills Development and Vocational Training (Rs 9,590,577,000), Primary Industries (Rs 3,161,135,000), Plantations Industries (Rs 7,220,522,000), Hill Country, New Villages Infrastructure and Community Development (Rs 3,367,286,000), Prison Reforms, Rehabilitation, Resettlement and Hindu Religious Affairs (Rs 17,441,414,000), Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development (Rs 4,670,970,000),  Irrigation and Water Resources Management (Rs 20,038,750,000), National Integration and Reconciliation (Rs 1,836,355,000), City Planning and Water Supply (Rs 22,846,206,000), Labour and Trade Union Relations (Rs 5,728,591,000), Telecommunication and Digital Infrastructure (Rs 2,453,670,000), and Development Strategy and International Trade (Rs 955,310,000).

Yesterday’s presentation is considered as the first reading of the Appropriation Bill. Its second reading is scheduled to commence with Finance Minister Karunanayake presenting budget proposals to the House on November 10. The budget debate is tentatively scheduled to continue till Dec 10.