The Government has spent Rs.262 billion for controlling the Covid-19 pandemic so far since 2020, said Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday (30). He made this observation during a Finance Ministry Progress Review Meeting held at the Temple Trees presided by the Premier.
As the Finance Minister, the Premier focused his attention on the present situation of all institutions belonging to the Ministry and about solving prevailing problems at the presentation of the progress and future vision of the Ministry under the theme of “towards the path of prosperity through challenges” by Secretary to the Treasury S. R. Attygalle.
Attygalle said the Government successfully controlled the first and second waves of COVID-19 pandemic, and added that the Government is successfully facing the third wave of the pandemic which began in April this year. According to data of the Ministry of Finance the Government had spent a sum of Rs. 117 billion on COVID-19 control in 2020 and up to now in 2021 another Rs. 53 billion has been spent. Attygalle said further that during the relevant period, Rs. 92 billion had been spent on vaccinations and other expenditure.
He pointed out further that on the instructions of the Prime Minister, even during this difficult period of time, provisions were allocated through the Ministry of Finance on behalf of people including small and medium scale businesspersons who deserved it.
He recalled that a clean budget was presented last time in the year 2019 while paying off outstanding bills of Rs. 423 billion.
He also said that while reducing interest rates and providing loan concessions it was possible to maintain a rate of 4-6 percent inflation and that it had increased during the past month of May to either 6.1 or 6.2 percent. He mentioned that arrangements are being made by the Ministry of Finance to decrease that figure.
He Pointed out that 11,000 development projects had been approved by the Government from the Decentralized Fund. It was also revealed that all groups who were being given allowances under the Samurdhi Development Department had been paid the stipend of Rs. 5,000 on four occasions.
Steps will be taken in near future to create 500 production villages under the instructions of Premier Rajapaksa. During the meeting attention was drawn to the possibility of reducing the interest rates and providing debt relief by holding discussions with both local and foreign banks in order to revive the businesses which collapsed in the face of COVID-19.
The discussion also revealed that the Government is holding discussions with institutions in the field of finance in order to attract foreign investments to the country and a National Securities Institution will be established within the country by January 2022. Plans are afoot to add list 500 companies more to the Share Market from 2021 to 2024.
Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka Prof. W. D. Lakshman emphasized that whatever opinions are being presented by the Opposition, it was possible to pay back foreign debts without delay. The Prime Minister instructed the Secretary to the Ministry of Finance and the Treasury S. R. Attygalle to look into setting up all institutions of the Ministry which are now scattered all over, in the same building, for the convenience of the public.