Chamber says budget before polls “inappropriate”
The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce said last week the presentation of the Budget immediately prior to the Presidential polls was “inappropriate”.
“Presidential Candidates, who prepared their manifestos independent of the government budgetary process, would require manoeuvrability for their implementation. It may also be construed as being influenced by considerations relating to the Presidential Election to be held on November 17, although, in actual fact, this may not be the case,” the chamber said in a statement.

The Chamber also noted that countries such as India prohibit, by regulation or by convention, the presentation of a national budget during the period of the proclamation and holding of an election of national importance.
The Chamber Committee also decided to urge the government to amend the Fiscal Management (Responsibility) Act No. 3 of 2003 (FMRA), to enable the provisions relating to a general election to be applied to a Presidential Election, as well. The FMRA entails the release, by the Secretary to the Ministry of Finance to the public, of a pre-election budgetary position report, containing information on the fiscal position of the country, within three weeks of the publication of the proclamation order requiring the holding of a General Election, the statement said.

The chamber is also holding a joint budget seminar in association with the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka, to analyse and explain the implications of the budget proposals, at the Colombo Plaza Hotel on November 11, three days after the November 8 budget.

It also welcomed the recent passing of the Tourism Act in parliament which provides a pivotal role in the overall decision-making process of the industry. “Very importantly, the Cess currently charged, will largely fund the proposed Tourism Bureau, which will have majority representation from the private sector,” the chamber said.

At the Committee Meeting of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, the stakeholders’ views on the Terminal Handling Charge (THC) and Port Charges were discussed, with the participation of several Stakeholders such as Port Users and Port Operators, represented by the Sri Lanka Shippers’ Council, The Ceylon Association of Ships’ Agents (CASA), the Chamber’s Import Section and the Exporters’ Association of Sri Lanka (EASL). In view of the diverse views expressed on ways to reduce the charges, the Committee decided to urge the government to appoint a Port Regulator who will have the requisite expertise and background knowledge to make a fair determination.

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