Government preparing comprehensive budget for 2021

By Vyshnavi Velraj 

The Government has commenced the drafting of a new budget for the year 2021, the Colombo Gazette learns.

State Minister of Finance and Capital Markets and Public Enterprise Reform Ajith Nivard Cabraal told the Colombo Gazette that the new budget will be based on President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s vision for Sri Lanka under his “Saubhagye Dekma” manifesto.

The new budget will be drafted and submitted as per the usual procedure, he said.

As the first step, the Ministry of Finance will issue the Budget Circular. Ministries with the help of departments and agencies functioning under them will prepare estimates of revenue and expenditure.

The Finance Commission, in accordance with its constitutional mandate, will recommend allocations to the Provincial Councils and submits them to the President. These are taken into account by the Treasury.

The Ministry of Finance then holds discussions with Ministries in order to make estimates conform to government policy and priorities. Then they are submitted to the cabinet for their study and approval. The finalized estimates will reveal a surplus or deficit for the Government budget. For the last several decades’ successive governments have been running a deficit, Cabraal said.

These estimates will be presented to Parliament in the Appropriation Bill, which is the First Reading of the Budget, by the Minister of Finance.

The general practice is for the Minister of Finance to present the Appropriation Bill in the early part of October in the current year and after passage through Parliament, it will be in force from the 1st of January, the following year.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa had appointed an interim Cabinet in November and used existing Government funds due to the coronavirus pandemic in March after Parliament was dissolved.

Under the powers vested in him, the President is permitted to use Government funds for another three months from the first sitting of Parliament.

Following the appointment of a new government last week, the inaugural session of the 09th Parliament of Sri Lanka is set to take place tomorrow (Thursday). (Colombo Gazette)