To explore the budget proposals for each sector, simply click on the corresponding sector in the chart.
1. Rs. 3000 billion allocated for the implementation of foreign debt restructuring and settlement of International Sovereign Bonds.
Due to the space created by the debt restructuring process, the government was able to find resources for relief measures. Under the debt restructuring supported by the International Monetary Fund, Sri Lanka's public debt as a percentage of GDP is expected to be reduced from 128 percent in 2022 to 95 percent in 2032. People will get the benefits of these savings. After the completion of the debt restructuring process, the overall macroeconomic stability and stability of the financial sector will be further strengthened. We have now been able to achieve significant progress in the debt restructuring process. Key aspects of Domestic Debt Optimization are completed. As part of the restructuring of International Sovereign Bonds under the External Debt Restructuring Process, Sri Lanka's net debt is reduced to its present value. USD denominated New financial instruments should be issued to settle existing international sovereign bonds. Accordingly, for the settlement of existing International Sovereign Bonds, budget allocations are required to record the transaction in the government book of accounts. Accordingly, for the implementation of foreign debt restructuring and settlement of International Sovereign Bonds under foreign debt restructuring, I propose to allocate Rs. 3,000 billion through this budget.
2. Rs. 1,260 billion allocated for development activities in the next year
We have already introduced a new mechanism to approve development projects. A Government Committee has been established to review new projects. As per recommendations of the Committee, the Minister of Finance will grant approval for projects. Government will not allocate funds for projects that deviate from this procedure. This will enable to allocate capital expenditure to give a higher contribution to the economic growth. This is very important for fiscal and debt sustainability. To achieve this objective, I will increase the expenditure capital expenditure to Rs. 1,260 billion. This is equal to 4 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The implementation of number of projections have been temporarily suspend due to the economic crisis. I will allocate another Rs. 55 billion to recommence and complete these projects and to provide necessary provisions for the capital expenditure proposals mentioned in this Budget Speech. 156 We will allocate this by transferring Rs. 55 billion from the Vote of the National Budget Department to Capital Expenditure Vote. Thus, we would allocate Rs. 1,260 billion for the development activities of next year. Further, a number of projects that was implemented under foreign loans and grants have been temporarily suspended. We will have the opportunity to recommence these projects after the completion of foreign debt restructuring activities. It is observed that the project management committees have been unable to achieve expected objectives fo the development projects. Hence, I propose to establish a unit for this purpose under each Ministry from 2024 onwards, to include project related activities to the duty list of the permanent staff and to procure human resources under contract and duty basis only when related specialists are not available in the public sector.
3. Rs. 50 billion allocated for the development of SMEs.
SMEs have been badly affected by the economic crisis and COVID-19 pandemic. A recent survey revealed that about 20 percent of such enterprises have either temporarily or permanently closed down. The survey also revealed a decrease in the performance volume of the currently operating enterprises. We want to fast track the journey towards a production economy. Therefore, SMEs should be further strengthened, encouraged and facilitated. For this purpose, we are introducing a concessionary loan scheme of around Rs. 30 billion with the support of the Asian Development Bank. This programme is the first phase of action which will collectively provide a major impetus to the SMEs. In addition to concessionary credit facilities, capacity development programs are implemented for the participating institutions. Steps will be taken to link SMEs with the value chains of large companies in the industrial sector. The required provisions have already been included in the Budget 2024. Accordingly, the total amount allocated for the development of SMEs is Rs. 50 billion. As a result, a financial space worth around Rs. 250 billion is created.
4. Rs. 10 billion allocated for the renovations and maintenance of rural roads.
Since the last few years, it has not been possible to carry out the maintenance and management of rural roads properly, I propose to allocate Rs.10 billion for the year 2024 for the renovation of such roads which have become dilapidated.
5. 10 billion allocated for a rural and community development program for the 89 Divisional Secretariat divisions that belong to the hill country areas of Sabaragamuwa and Central Provinces as well as Badulla, Matara, and Kurunegala districts
The public infrastructure and services available in the hill country are relatively underdeveloped due to disparities in the distribution of resources for various reasons. This disparity is also reflected in the living standards of the people. The government has recognized the importance of giving priority to rural development in the hill country. A 10-year multipurpose rural and community development program from the year 2024 including all the 89 Divisional Secretariat divisions that belong to the hill country areas of Sabaragamuwa and Central Provinces as well as Badulla, Matara, and Kurunegala districts. I propose to allocate Rs. 10 billion for the year 2024 for this purpose.
6. Rs. 9 billion allocated to ensure the continuity of the W&OP pension scheme for widows, widowers and orphans.
W&OP scheme is a contributory pension scheme in which employees contribute 6-7 percent of their basic salary. The Government spends Rs. 65 billion annually for the payment of the W&OP scheme. The total annual contribution from employees for W&OP scheme is Rs. 38 billion. Hence, the contribution from the public employees is not sufficient for the payment of the same. Therefore, I propose to revise the deduction percentage from the salary for this pension contribution to 8 percent for all service categories from April 2024 onward. With this adjustment, an additional Rs. 9 billion can be collected annually, and it will ensure the continuity of the pension scheme for widows, widowers and orphans.
7. Rs. 8 billion allocated to formulate a national research policy to promote economic growth, economic progress and social well-being.
Research and development, technological advancement and innovation, play an important role as a catalyst in promoting economic growth and supporting economic progress and social well-being. I propose to formulate a national research policy based on those facts. I propose to allocate Rs. 8 billion for this purpose.
8. Rs 4 billion allocated to grant land ownership to estate dwellers
Relevant proposal: Estate dwellers are not owners of lands. We will take steps to grant land ownership and build houses for them. As the initial step, I expect to allocate Rs. 4 billion.
9. Rs. 3 billion allocated to restructure the organizational structure related to information technology in the public sector.
I propose to restructure the organizational structure related to information technology in the public sector to facilitate the digital economy by the year 2030. Accordingly, efforts are being made to establish a digital authority with full powers to provide the necessary leadership and direction for the digitization of the public sector. In addition, I also propose to establish a technological innovation council to encourage technological innovation in coordination with the public sector, expert institutions and civil society. Also, steps will be taken to establish a National Center for Artificial Intelligence to ensure an economic and social transformation, based on the latest trends in digital technology, and artificial intelligence, An amount of Rs. 3 billion is allocated to implement these activities for the next year. A critical backbone for this infrastructure will be the development of Sri Lanka's digital identity. Steps have been taken to reach this goal and it is expected to be completed in the year 2024.
10. Rs. 2 billion allocated for the process of handing over land ownership to farmers who lost ownership of their land during the British colonial era.
Waste Land Ordinance was passed in 1897. The British government acquired thousands of acres of rural land across the country under that Ordinance. 154 Afterwards, in 1935, under the Land Development Ordinance, those land slots were distributed among farmers under the license system. But although around hundred years have passed, the ownership of these farmlands has not been handed back to the farmers who own them. As mentioned in the drama “Chalk Circle”, “farmers with good conduct; should win the land and villages” We are handing over the lands to farmers who lost the ownership of their traditional lands during the British colonial era. We expect to commence this task in 2024 and complete it within another few years. Two million (2,000,000) families will get the ownership of land and farmland. I allocate Rs. 2 billion for this purpose.
11. Rs. 2 billion allocated for the basic construction activities of the Hingurakgoda International Airport.
Rs. 2 billion allocated for the basic construction activities of the Hingurakgoda International Airport.
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