- MP Harsha de Silva questions how budget deficit could be cut down amidst pending payments
- Says Govt. should rethink expenditure, as education spending is far lower in comparison
- Says appointing 37 State Ministers unacceptable when Govt. revenue is low
By Imesh Ranasinghe
The Ministry of Finance has Rs. 100 billion worth of bill payments due to construction companies and the military, even though the Government is trying to cut down on expenditure to manage the budget deficit, Opposition MP Dr. Harsha de Silva said.
Speaking in Parliament yesterday (8), he said that the Treasury has Rs. 75 billion in bill payments for road construction work and owes Rs. 25 billion to the military, whereas education bills only amounted to Rs 1 billion.
“The Treasury has about Rs. 100 billion in bills due on road construction and to the military, while education has only Rs. 1 billion, so we need to rethink this,” he added.
Moreover, he said that appointing 37 State Ministers at a time when the Government revenue for 2022 is expected to be Rs. 2.094 billion with a budget deficit of Rs. 2,333 billion, even when debt servicing is suspended, is unacceptable, as the Government should focus on cutting down expenditure.
According to the Treasury, during the first four months of 2022, the expenditure on roads and bridges amounted to Rs. 36.3 billion, which is a 6% decline compared to the same period of 2021. Out of this amount, Rs. 16.1 billion was spent on national and rural road development.
In May 2022, the Chamber of Construction Industry of Sri Lanka said that the total amount of payments outstanding to contractors and consultants on work performed on contracts in roads, school buildings, and water supply projects alone exceeded Rs. 100 billion, while outstanding payments have been overdue for over 12 months.
The initial Budget for 2022, which was presented last year, had a total defence allocation of Rs. 373 billion, which was 15% of the total Government expenditure for 2022.