Amidst increasing reports of a possible a Presidential election early next year, the Government is to seek billions of rupees outside the Budget to pay salaries and incentives and carry out development work.
This week alone, Rs. 11 billion (Rs. 11,000 million) was passed in supplementary estimates.
This has placed an additional burden on the Treasury which has also been asked to earmark Rs. 2.5 billion for fertilizer subsidy for farmers and tea small-holders.
The requests for extra money come in the midst of official reports that the Government expenditure is growing and the revenue falling.
The Mid-Year Fiscal Position report issued by the Ministry of Finance recently said expenditure in the first five months of the year grew by 28 percent because of high interest rates, high interest payments, enhanced wages and pension, fertilizer subsidy and enhanced funds allocated for capital projects, while the government revenue declined by eight percent in comparison to figures recorded in the same period last year.
Expenditure on salaries of public servants increased to Rs. 86,681 million – a 16 percent increase in comparison to the same period last year —while pension
payments rose to Rs. 27,233 million, a 17 percent increase. The expenditure on welfare payments and subsidies amounted to Rs 30,215 million compared to Rs. 26,813 million during the same period last year.
The report also said that within the first five months of the year, 23 percent of the total provision of public investment had been utilized.
It is midst this widening gap between expenditure and revenue that the government is seeking additional money in supplementary estimates. In the coming weeks, parliament approval would be sought to obtain Rs. 1 billion to renovate and restore the Inland Revenue Department’s Colombo head office, which was damaged in an LTTE air attack in February this year, while another 2.5 billion in supplementary estimates would be sought by the Agriculture Development and Agrarian Services Minister to continue with the fertilizer subsidy for farmers and tea small holders.
This sum will be in addition to the Rs. 25,000 million already allocated to the Agriculture Ministry for the payment of fertilizer subsidy for this year.
Last week, Parliament approved Rs. 2,299.83 million in supplementary estimates for the Transport Ministry to pay salaries and the Cost of Living allowance and to develop the Transport Board.
Transport Minister Dullas Allahaperuma said that although in the budget Rs. 2,600 million was allocated for the payment of salaries of the SLTB employees, only Rs. 600 million was made available and therefore, the ministry is seeking extra money in supplementary estimates.
Parliament also approved Rs. 8 billion for the Ministry of Export Development and International Trade to be used for payment of rewards under the Export Development Reward scheme designed to help exporters cope with the economic downturn.
The Finance and Planning Ministry also got approval for Rs. 350 million in supplementary estimate to fund part of the government’s stimulus programme aimed at assisting sectors that are hit by the global recession.
Last month, Parliament approved a supplementary estimate of Rs. 1.5 billion for the payment of a 20% bonus on the interest paid to all existing and new deposits in NRFC and RFC accounts in a bid to encourage Sri Lankans living abroad to send in more remittances.
Supplementary estimates are moved to cover expenses over and above the budgeted provisions for the year and come mid way into the financial year.