House approved with amendments the Vote on Account for Rs.1,470 billion for capital and recurrent expenses of the Government which was presented in Parliament yesterday.
Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera moved the Vote on Account for the first four months of 2020 against Rs.745 billion revenue and Rs.721 billion anticipated credit facility.
Moving the motion, Minister Samaraweera offered more benefits for both state and the private sector employees with effect from December including immediate tax reductions and increments. “Starting from December we will be replacing the batta of police officers from 14 days to 20 days. The distress loans of state employees will be increased to Rs.350,000 from Rs.250,000 and the interest reduced to 3% from 4.5%,” he said.
Among the list of benefits the Government planned for 2020, the Rs.6,000 given to state employees to purchase bicycles will be increased to Rs.10,000 while interest reduced from 4.5% to 3%. The uniform allowance will be increased to Rs.5,000 from Rs.4,000. The allowance for spectacles of state employees granted through National Insurance Trust Fund will be increased to Rs.8,000 from Rs.5,000.
“We are extending the benefits for the state sector in anticipation of increased efficiency and quality. The state employees receive these benefits from public money. I request state employees to increase their commitment and avoid corruption. I reject those elements disrupting public life and services by taking refuge in trade unions. It is important that we continue to work without the strikes seen in the recent past,” the Minister said.The Minister noted that the Government had provided many benefits to the people since 2015. “We added a Rs.10,000 allowance to the state employees in our maiden budget in 2015. With the other increments the average salary of a state employee has gone up by 250% during the last five years. No other government in the past could give such benefits to its people. Not to forget the pensioners: we have increased their pensions in July. We were able to control inflation. Sri Lanka records the lowest inflation of 4% in the South Asian region.”
Minister Samaraweera said that the Government coffers received a Rs.1,195 billion income in 2014 which was increased to Rs.2,357 billion by 2019. “We have increased the PAYE tax bar to Rs.100,000 from Rs.62,500. We removed essential items from VAT. There are 14,022 Grama Niladharis in the country and we have increased their office allowances to Rs.1,500 followed by the travelling allowance, stationery allowance, and uniform allowance,” he said.
(Source: Daily News – By Sandasen MARASINGHE, Camelia Nathaniel and Amali Mallawarachchi)