Bud­get highs and lows: Peo­ple have their say

Sunday Times (Sri Lanka) - - BUDGET NEWS/LOBBY -

The Bud­get pro­posal for 2018 has drawn mixed re­ac­tions from the com­mon man/ woman as they start to di­gest the con­tents.

Some say it has opened up many op­por­tu­ni­ties while oth­ers say their ex­pec­ta­tions of the cost of liv­ing be­ing eased has not been ful­filled. Ex­cerpts: Wath­sala Mad­hu­rangi (21), Colombo Univer­sity Arts Fac­ulty stu­dent

It is a good move to in­crease the num­ber of stu­dents el­i­gi­ble for the Ma­hap­ola Schol­ar­ship scheme by 3,000. I have many col­leagues who should re­ceive it but do not.

It is also im­por­tant to in­crease the Schol­ar­ship at least up to Rs 8,000 from the cur­rent Rs 5,000 as this is not enough to meet the daily ex­penses. The health In­surance scheme is also a good con­cept but it should be im­ple­mented prop­erly.

At ev­ery Bud­get new sub­jects in the fields of tech­nol­ogy and busi­ness are in­tro­duced. But they should look to in­tro­duce new sub­jects in the Arts streams too.

Su­nil Jayasekara (66), re­tired SLTB worker from Tha­la­p­ath­pi­tiya

I don’t think pen­sion­ers will ben­e­fit much by ex­tend­ing the ‘Agra­hara’ In­surance to all the re­tirees. Peo­ple can only ob­tain in­surance when they are sick. But as pen­sion­ers we face nu­mer­ous eco­nomic hard­ships be­cause the pen­sion we cur­rently re­ceive is not enough to face day to day ex­penses. We ex­pected an in­crease in the pen­sions we are cur­rently paid. I think the pre­vi­ous pen­sion scheme should be re­stored.

Varisa Wick­ra­maarachchi 60 from Piliyan­dala

The in­crease in charges for ser­vices pro­vided by Gov­ern­ment agen­cies is un­fair. If we take an ap­pli­ca­tion form from an agency the ex­pense the gov­ern­ment has to bear is al­most the same but now they are go­ing to in­crease it by 15 %.

We have to go to gov­ern­ment of­fices fre­quently to get copies of birth cer­tifi­cates, doc­u­ments re­gard­ing deed etc.

Although the amount has been in­creased there is no im­prove­ment in the ef­fi­ciency of gov­ern­ment in­sti­tu­tions. Now we have to face these ex­penses in ad­di­tion to the high cost of liv­ing.

D.M.Shel­ton (53), pri­vate bus driver from Uda­hamulla

If elec­tric buses come into the mar­ket then the fares of those buses will be com­par­a­tively less than what we charge and ev­ery­one will start us­ing SLTB elec­tric buses.

We toil a lot to earn at least Rs. 3,000 a day and on some days we get even less than that. We are al­ready af­fected by the lower train fares. If elec­tric buses are in­tro­duced then the fares in both state run and pri­vate buses should be the same so that com­muters will be equally dis­trib­uted.

I have driven buses for the past 10 years, and tech­no­log­i­cal im­prove­ments are good but if the touch sys­tem is go­ing to de­prive jobs of con­duc­tors, then it is not fair be­cause they too have fam­i­lies to look after.

M. H. Soma­pala ( 72), three wheeler driver from Nawala

The in­tro­duc­tion of elec­tric three wheel­ers is good be­cause then less money will be spent on fuel and we won't have to face a fuel cri­sis in the fu­ture. It is also favourable to the en­vi­ron­ment.

But we will be happy if the gov­ern­ment ini­ti­ates some form of re­lief scheme for us to pur­chase elec­tric three­wheel­ers.

Me­ters are manda­tory if three wheeler driv­ers quote un­fair rates. But I don’t feel it is com­pul­sory to have a me­ter if a spe­cific amount is agreed upon by both the driver and the pas­sen­ger.

Tourist tuk tuks are ideal es­pe­cially for youth. They have the po­ten­tial to pro­mote tourism in the coun­try but they also have to be trained to drive.

An­ton Ku­mara (42) vegetable ven­dor from Kir­u­lapona

The de­ci­sion to take Man­ning mar­ket to Peliyagoda is im­prac­ti­cal as it is too far for most of the ven­dors and many of us buy our veg­eta­bles from the Man­ning mar­ket.

Gen­er­ally f rom Colombo to Nuge­goda a lorry charges Rs.60 for one sack of veg­eta­bles and now when the mar­ket is re­lo­cated in Peliyagoda the lor­ries will charge twice that amount.

This will re­sult in veg­eta­bles be­ing sold at higher prices in some places and we will lose our cus­tomers.

Lalani Boteju ( 50), house­wife from Nuge­goda

I per­son­ally feel that this is not a suc­cess­ful; bud­get. We as house­wives spend most our time in the kitchen and are af­fected by the price hike of goods. We have never ben­e­fited from any bud­get. When there is a price in­crease it im­me­di­ately comes into op­er­a­tion and is re­flected in the mar­ket. How­ever when a price is brought down it takes weeks to be ef­fec­tive.

How­ever the Gov­ern­ment's de­ci­sion to strengthen the Consumer Af­fairs Authority is a pos­i­tive move as it could pro­tect con­sumers from be­ing ex­ploited.

Y. Dayananda (42) busi­ness­man from Mor­a­ga­ha­hena

I ap­pre­ci­ate the pro­posal to im­prove men­tal health care fa­cil­i­ties in the coun­try. How­ever it is im­por­tant to up­grade other hos­pi­tals around the coun­try too by pro­vid­ing ba­sic re­quire­ments.

Im­pos­ing high taxes to cur­tail the man­u­fac­ture of il­licit liquor is a good move. But I dont think by solely im­pos­ing taxes we can con­trol the con­sump­tion of il­licit liquor. How­ever since the the tax im­posed on beer has been brought down there will be an in­crease in beer con­sump­tion.

I don’t think im­pos­ing taxes when man­u­fac­tur­ing poly­thene and plas­tic would re­duce their us­age. Other steps should be taken con­cur­rently to cur­tail us­age.

T. B. Sarath, Sec­re­tary, All- is­land Farm­ers Fed­er­a­tion-from Polon­naruwa

This bud­get has not sug­gested any form of de­vel­op­ment in the agri­cul­ture or in­dus­try sec­tors. We were hop­ing to re­ceive an in­surance scheme.

Us­ing so­lar power is an en­cour­ag­ing ini­tia­tive. This should have been im­ple­mented a long time ago. The wa­ter saved as a re­sult of us­ing so­lar power should be di­verted to the agri­cul­ture sec­tor.

The Gov­ern­ment has to re­view their wa­ter man­age­ment poli­cies and give pri­or­ity to the agri­cul­tural sec­tor.

In­stead of ex­pand­ing man­u­fac­tur­ing in the coun­try the gov­ern­ment has taken steps to sell the nat­u­ral re­sources of the coun­try.

Su­jith Sa­man­tha, Pres­i­dent, All Is­land Mul­ti­day Fish­eries Trawler Own­ers As­so­ci­a­tion

Many pro­pos­als in the bud­get could have a pos­i­tive im­pact on the fish­ing in­dus­try. But we are doubt­ful whether these would be im­ple­mented prop­erly as sim­i­lar pro­pos­als that were pro­posed ear­lier never saw the light of day.

The gov­ern­ment has agreed to bear 50% of the cost of only multi-day boats of more than 55 feet length. I think this con­ces­sion should be given to fish­ing boats at least up to 48-50 feet long. We would be able to save a huge amount of money if Milk Fish which is used as bait is pro­duced in the coun­try as pro­posed in the bud­get. The de­ci­sion to build a fish­eries har­bour in Man­nar is also a long felt need of the fish­ing com­mu­nity of the area.

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