A snap poll on Sri Lanka’s 2013 budget from email and street responses saw a majority of the respondents appearing to back the government’s proposals. The poll was jointly conducted by the Business Times (BT) and polling partner, Research and Consultancy Bureau (RCB) soon after President Mahinda Rajapaksa ended his budget speech in Parliament on [...]

The Sundaytimes Sri Lanka

Most people in favour of 2013 budget proposals


A snap poll on Sri Lanka’s 2013 budget from email and street responses saw a majority of the respondents appearing to back the government’s proposals.

The poll was jointly conducted by the Business Times (BT) and polling partner, Research and Consultancy Bureau (RCB) soon after President Mahinda Rajapaksa ended his budget speech in Parliament on Thursday evening.

Questions (targeting a cross-section of the public) were asked on the wage hike of Rs 1,500 for state sector employees, increase in airport and online visa tax, concessions for racing car imports, hike in motor vehicle revenue licences, unutilised plantation land to be developed by youth, taxes on imported canned fish, high taxes on imported milk and drought affected-farmers being exempt from interest on loans. Responses were sought in the form of ‘Agree’, ‘Disagree’ or ‘Undecided” on the proposals.

Of the questions, respondents agreed with six while there was disagreement in the other two, after a total count of both polls was taken.
Interestingly email respondents and street responses saw eye-to-eye on two questions, reacting with a “Disagree” response. They were on racing cars and the hike in motor vehicles revenue licences.

Separately street respondents were also unhappy about the increase in airport taxes, with the “Disagree” vote higher here than the other two categories.

The proposal to give tax concessions to racing cars drew a chorus of protests and anger with one respondent cynically saying: “Aston Martin ekak ganne kohomada Astra Magarine ekak wath ganna salli na ne!”

The email poll drew 400 responses while the street interviews were conducted in Nugegoda and Kohuwela by RCB.

“The research was done using (a) systematic sampling method and achieved a sample of 510 with margin of error of +/- 4.34 at 96% confidence level,” RCB noted. (The graphic provides an indication of the preferences for the eight questions).

Comments from street interviews:

The Rs 1500 hike is similar to last year’s promise. Going by the current COL this is not enough.

Racing cars: It is the poor man’s vehicle that is affected. This is a relief for the dictators and their henchmen and not the man in the streets.

Ordinary farmers are being given relief is a good move.

It is wrong to tax canned fish as they are not made here. When essential imports are taxed it is the common man that suffers.

Milk: Though the excuse is to improve local milk production it would take long for local milk meet the demand. Again the poor man suffers.

Comments on email:

On wage hike to state employees:

The strategy should be to pay good salaries and make the public sector smaller.

The government sector is very lethargic and unproductive. They should be given earlier retirement (55 years) and the public sector reduced.

According to living costs and inflation, this increase won’t cover even the transport costs of a 4-member family.

On increasing airport taxes:

Is this to fund Mattala airport?

This is a small increase yes but what are we trying to prove here? That Sri Lanka is the best holiday destination in the world and that tourists will pay anything to come here? We still have some way to go before that.

Before increasing these rates, we need to first build our tourism and business investment environment to attract foreigners.

If the idea is to attract more people to this country, we must levy an airport tax that is realistic. I am not sure however whether we should kill the goose that lays the golden egg…tourism-wise.

On racing car imports:

Completely ludicrous, only because someone loves racing. No prizes for guessing who!

This is a ‘let them eat cake’ measure.

Taxis providing public transport deserve tax concessions more than racing cars

This is a joke. Everyone knows who the beneficiaries are.

How does this help develop the country?

Pandering to the racing craze of the President’s sons.

No benefit to the burning issues in the country. The focus should be country first, not family first.

Why on earth, when we do not have a single racing track?

On motor vehicle licence fees:

Should concentrate on improving the public transport system, especially in urban areas. The reason people buy cars is because public transport is inefficient.

We should use this additional income to improve the road system

As motorists we are already paying for bad roads, road rage, etc, etc. Getting from A to B is taking longer by the day. What service are we getting for paying these taxes? It would seem that the middle class vehicle owner is being systematically throttled …perhaps the affluent can afford escalating taxes, but we are not in a position to even consider a brand new vehicle because of the high import tax and paying more to stay on the road

On youth receiving unused plantation land:

There should be a proper programme to develop these lands

Will this upset the equilibrium of the plantation community and most deserving, and allow political henchmen to get these lands

Intrusion into plantations from outside is not a good idea

It’s okay as long as there is no political interference or communalism

On taxes on imported tinned fish

Protein will be made more inaccessible, malnutrition will worsen

Who is this supposed to help? There are more obvious luxury items that should be taxed first

It should improve the local production as well as the quality

Will affect households as tinned fish is consumed in many homes

On increasing imported milk powder taxes:

Are the locals ready to cater to local demand?

Not until we are able to produce milk powder for the entire nation

Will lead to further malnutrition of the poor

No consistency in policy. It would be more relevant to improve the process to collect and distribute the produce of the local industry

Are we self-sufficient? There are many state farms without proper management. First we have to invite foreign companies to collaborate with existing government farms to improve or start new projects before increasing taxes

Will affect households and increase cost of living

This is an import substitution effort instead of an export oriented policy. It will result in an increase in local consumer prices and a further increase in import tariff and non-tariff protection of domestic enterprises

The dire need is to reduce import tariff protection to make them face global competition on equal terms

This is protectionism. Can we not develop our own industry to compete? If not, by taxing milk powder even further, what are the nutritional options for poor people? They will have neither affordable milk from imports nor any steady supply locally

On benefits to drought-affected farmers

This is a good proposal to help affected farmers. But it’s also to safeguard the government’s vote base

My sympathies are with the farmer but what happens when there are floods again next year? Are we to write off interest again? This is a bigger issue involving the future of agriculture in this country. Needs a better plan.

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