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SL Set for Key Vote on Transformative 2024 Budget, Aims for Economic Revival

The Sri Lankan government is poised for a crucial vote on the Second Reading of the 2024 Appropriation Bill, also known as the 78th Budget Speech, slated for this evening, November 21.

Presented to the House by President Ranil Wickremesinghe on November 13, in his dual role as the Minister of Finance, Economic Stabilization & National Policies, the budget proposals for the fiscal year 2024 mark a significant stride in the country’s fiscal planning. The President’s speech highlighted the budget’s transformative potential, emphasizing its role in realigning Sri Lanka’s economy with global trends and setting a foundation for future growth.

Debate on the budget commenced on November 14 and enters its seventh day today. The Committee Stage, or Third Reading debate, is scheduled for 19 days, starting from November 22 to December 13, excluding Sundays. The final vote on the Third Reading is fixed for 6:00 p.m. on December 13, 2023.

Titled “A Prelude to a Bright Future,” the 2024 Budget outlines ambitious revenue and budget deficit targets. The government projects a budget deficit of Rs. 2,851 billion, equating to 9.1% of the GDP, a rise from the revised 8.5% in the current year and above the initial target of 7.9% for 2023.

Projected total revenue stands at Rs. 4,107 billion, including tax revenue of Rs. 3,820 billion. The total expenditure for 2024 is set at a record Rs. 6,978 billion, up by nearly 33% compared to 2023. This includes a significant increase in capital expenditure and Rs. 450 billion allocated for bank recapitalization.

The government has earmarked Rs. 5,277 billion for recurrent expenditures such as subsidies and salary payments, with Rs. 1,127 billion for salaries and wages, and Rs. 1,158 billion for subsidies and transfers.

A notable allocation in the 2024 Budget is Rs. 3,000 billion reserved for restructuring foreign debt and repaying international sovereign bonds. Additionally, a proposal to raise the debt ceiling by Rs. 3,450 billion to Rs. 7,350 billion, up from Rs. 3,900 billion, has been made.

President Wickremesinghe’s call for cross-party cooperation reflects the need for a united front to navigate the country through these challenging economic reforms.

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