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LIVE UPDATES: 2017 Budget Speech

Ravi Karunanayake, in his capacity as the Minister of Finance, presented the Budget for the fiscal year of 2017 to the Sri Lankan Parliament, a short while ago.

The Minister is currently delivering the much-anticipated Budget speech (Second Reading of the 2017 Appropriation Bill). President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe are both attending the parliament session today (10).  

In his opening remarks, Karunanayake said that domestic and international market will be broadened for Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) and that improved technology will be introduced for the agricultural sector.  

He stated that proposals for the budget were obtained even from village-level and that several of those proposals had reached the final draft. He also said that the government does not want free trade but fair trade.

-Live Updates-

2.32pm - The minister said that unused unproductive lands will be released for agricultural purposes.

2.36pm - Rs 400 million will be allocated loan facilities for farming cooperatives.

2.38pm - I propose to allocate Rs.75 million to develop an automated commodity exchange - Ravi

2.41pm - Govt expects to increase tea export earnings to US dollars 5 billion by year 2020

2.42pm - I propose that the Sri Lanka Tea Board extends guarantees to local tea exporters to obtain US doller loans for brand promotion – Ravi

2.43pm - I propose to abolish the import export control fee of 1% on CIF price of tea, to remove the fee on packing of tea and remove the fee on logo registration - Ravi

2.44pm - I urge relevant authorities to enforce strictly to the ban on export of refuse tea. A fine of Rs 300 per kg will be imposed on those violating the regulation - Ravi

2.45pm - Rubber master plan will be implemented immediately which included replanting, introducing high yielding plants, rainguarding technology etc;

2.45pm - Rs 900 million allocated for rubber re planting   

2.46pm - Automated Commodity Exchange to be set up for tea, rubber and coconut while Rs 75 million to be allocated for this

2.46pm - For more effective management the maximum acreage that can be held by any standalone company without being allowed to consolidate will be restricted to 5,000 acres. Govt will ensure there will be no loss of employment. 

2.47pm - 50% concession on the interest on loan facilities for paddy, fruits and vegetable farmers

2.48pm - 15,000 dairy cattle will be imported to the country

2.49pm - Price of 400g milk powder packet - Rs 295

2.56pm - Maximum retail price for whole chicken (1kg) - Rs 420

Minister proposes a minimum price of 5,000 per metric ton of sugar cane with effect from January 01, 2017

We will invite foreign and local investors to invest in sugar mills in Monaragala, Batticaloa, Killinochchi and Ampara districts.

We will provide government land to cultivate sugar cane under the outgrow system with the respective factories. 100% capital allowance on investment

2.57pm - Sugar Stabilization Fund to be set up with 2% CESS imposed on imported sugar and 5% on ethanol

2.59pm Minister proposes a minimum price of Rs 5,000 per metric ton of sugar cane with effect from January 01, 2017

3.01pm - Free Tablet computers to be provided for 175,000 A/L students and 25,000 teachers from next year. Rs 5,000 million will be allocated for this

3.02pm - Rs 200,000 free insurance scheme for all school students

3.03pm - I suggest that each student be given a cost sheet at the point of entrance so that they are conscious fo the funds allocated on their education - Ravi

3.03pm - The daily allowance for differently abled children will be increased to Rs 150 per day

3.04pm - A quality assurance management system will be introduced to ensure the standards of the private universities

3.05pm - Scholarships for top university students to study in foreign universities such as Harvard and MIT

3.06pm - Over 50,000 students will be enrolled to the universities by the year of 2020

3.06pm - Minister also suggested that in a bid to enroll more students, universities may have to function until 8.00pm to utilize resources effectively and to get a maximum result.

3.08pm - Loan scheme (up to Rs 800,000) for students who are not qualified to enter government universities to follow higher education at private institutes

3.10pm - 5-year multiple entry visas to be offered to foreign students to study in Sri Lankan universities from 2017

3.11pm - Minister proposes that Credit Information Bureau (CRIB) not to provide credit information on individuals with a cumulative original loan size of up to Rs 500,000.

3.24pm - Registrar of Companies to remain open during all 7 days of the week.

3.25pm - Exchange Control Act to be repealed

3.30pm - Major international companies who are willing to relocate their headquarters to Sri Lanka will be exempt from corporate tax.

3.42pm - Government to establish EXIM Bank next year and will initially contribute Rs 10,000 million.

3.43pm - Minister proposes scholarships to anyone who wishes to follow vocational training programme at the state-operated vocational training institute

3.44pm - Customs duty wavers for surfing sports in the tourism sector

3.45pm - Minimum room rate of a hotel to be abolished to ensure competitiveness

3.47pm - Govt will encourage the use of electric cars for passenger transportation as an alternative to the less safe three-wheelers. Rs 200 million allocated for a pilot project to be launched for this purpose with loan facilities, Ravi K. said.

3.48pm - Pre-paid cards for railway commuters

3.49pm - Feasibility study in extending Southern Expressway to Badulla

3.50pm - Mechanism to be introduced to regulate three-wheelers and school vans

3.53pm - Govt will remove the 25% CESS on construction industry applicable to pre fabricated structures

4.01pm - Foreign investors will be provided five-year multiple entry visas

4.07pm - All pharmacies should be registered with the government immediately

4.11pm - Minister proposes for shops to remain open until 11.00pm and buses to operate until 11.00pm

4.12pm - A special board will be introduced for the listing of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) at the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE).

4.15pm - A special Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) Act to be introduced.

4.35pm - Rs 50 million to be allocated to establish a special unit for the preservation of Sri Lankan films.

4.36pm - Real Estate Investment Trust will be established

4.37pm - The Samurdhi Fund will be renamed as “Jana Isuru”

4.39pm - Rs 100 million to be allocated for the development of Diyagama Stadium while Rs 125 million to be allocated for the development of the Sugathadasa Stadium.

4.41pm - Government will also request funds from tobacco companies to control smoking in the country.

4.43pm - The government Pensions scheme will be changed to a contributory pension scheme which will be established with an initial allocation of Rs 1,000 million

4.44pm - The minister proposes the setting up of a Debt Office as soon as possible. He said that Sri Lanka’s current debt stock is around 9 trillion.

4.53pm - Expressway toll fee to be reduced by Rs 50 between 9.00pm and 5.00am

4.55pm - 5kg of rice per a month for Samurdhi beneficiaries. This cost will be deducted from Samurdhi allowance.

4.57pm - MRP of 1 kg of green gram (Mung bean) to be reduced by Rs 15

4.57pm - MRP of 1 kg of dhal to be reduced by Rs 10

4.57pm - MRP of 1 kg of potatoes to be reduced by Rs 5

4.57pm - MRP of 1 kg of sprats to be reduced by Rs 5

4.58pm - MRP of 1 kg of sugar to be reduced by Rs 2

4.58pm - MRP of 1 litre of kerosene to be reduced by Rs 5

4.59pm - Price of domestic gas cylinder to be reduced by Rs 25

4.59pm - MRP of locally manufactured milk powder (400g) – Rs 250

4.59pm - MRP of locally manufactured canned fish (425g) – Rs 125

5.01pm - The pay-as-you-earn tax (PAYE) will be exempted up to Rs 100,000 per month.

5.02pm - CESS on 100 items will be removed with immediate effect.

5.03pm - Import tax on Electric Vehicles (<100kw) to be reduced.

5.10pm - Telecommunication Levy on Internet services will be increased to 25%.

5.11pm - SIM Activation Levy of Rs 200 will be imposed for a SIM.

5.15pm - All mobile operators will be given a 6 months period to convert their infrastructure enabling to provide 3G facility and a surcharge at Rs.
100 mn per district will be imposed for failing to provide such facility,

5.16pm - All metro areas have to be converted to 4G by 30th June 2018.
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