Budget Second Reading sails through | Sunday Observer

Budget Second Reading sails through

Ensuring the stability of the National Unity Government once again, the Second Reading of Budget 2018 was passed with a two thirds majority in Parliament on Thursday, signalling a warning to those who engage in futile attempts to topple the incumbent Government. All partners in the rainbow coalition voted in favour of the Budget, with151 votes for and 58 against. Only the Joint Opposition (JO) and the JVP voted against the Budget while the TNA voted with the Government reposing their confidence in the 2018 Budget proposals.

Debated for six days

Finance and Mass Media Minister Mangala Samaraweera presented Budget 2018 on November 9 and the Budget proposals were debated for six days continuously. The Government law makers who joined in the Second Reading of the Budget described it as a growth oriented positive Budget which paved the way for effecting far-reaching changes to strengthen the economy and expedite Government’s ongoing development drive.

The Third Reading stage of Budget 2018 commenced on Friday (November 17) and would continue until December 9 when the final vote is scheduled to take place on December 9 at 5 pm. Winding up the Second Reading debate, Finance and Mass Media Minister Mangala Samaraweera said, the Government always listens to proposals conceived by the people and Budget 2018 has incorporated a series of such people-friendly proposals.

Lamborghini tax

Even after the Budget was presented, following the requests made by the people, steps were taken to further extend tax concession given for brand new electric cars to cover one year used electric cars as well.

Minister Samaraweera, critical of some adverse remarks made by JO members said, they were talking as if they have awoken from the dead. Citing an example, the Minister pointed out, how the Lamborghini tax was repealed, Marriage Tax was increased by Rs.4,000 and even the death certificate levy was increased by Rs.2,000 during the tenure of the former Government.

Point of Order

During the Second Reading debate, a heated exchange of words ensued between State Minister of International Trade Sujeewa Senasinghe and UPFA MP Namal Rajapaksa when the latter raised a Point of Order and attempted to interrupt State Minister Senasinghe’s speech.

The two MPs locked horns over several issues including, the Bond Commission, the gem pouch of MP Rajapaksa’s grandaunt and how MP Rajapaksa had passed his Attorney-at-Law examination.

State Minister Senasinghe in his speech brought to notice the alleged incidents of corruption that had occurred during the tenure of the Rajapaksa regime.

Crooks

MP Rajapaksa raising a point of order said, when State Minister Senasinghe is talking about crooks, the CID has informed the Bond Commission that the State Minister has made 44 telephone calls to Arjun Aloysius while he was participating in the COPE investigation into the bond scam.

This led to huge verbal blows between the State Minister and the MP. The former resorted to a series of allegations against MP Rajapaksa.

He challenged the MP to tell the House at least what the first section of the Civil Procedure Code is about. MP Rajapaksa who is also an Attorney-at-Law failed to respond to the challenge posed by the State Minister who is also a lawyer by profession.

State Minister Senasinghe failed to answer a counter question fired by MP Rajapaksa on how and why he had made 44 telephone calls to Arjun Aloysius while he was a member of COPE, probing the bond scam.

Opposition Leader R. Sampanthan who joined in the Second Reading of the Budget asked former President Mahinda Rajapaksa not to stir communal unrest.

Promote disharmony

The Opposition Leader also requested former President Rajapaksa to extend his support to the attempts made to introduce a new Constitution. Sampanthan was of the view that the former President’s stance on national issues would pave the way to promote disharmony among the people.

The Opposition Leader said, if the former President is against devolution, he should frankly say whether power should only be exercised by Colombo, just as he sought to do through the 18th Amendment to the Constitution.

Participating in the Second Reading of the Budget, former President Rajapaksa said the outcome of the next election would reflect the aspirations of the people and help bring to power a team capable of hoisting the country from the current politico-economic malaise.

He called upon all those who loved the motherland to extend their cooperation to send the incumbent Government home.

Corrupt and inefficient

Making a lengthy speech in Parliament, he said, these corrupt and inefficient leaders should be driven home immediately, and it was the task of the people.

He said, public displeasure against the incumbent Government is increasing across the length and breadth of the country.

The Government has indefinitely postponed the Local Government polls over the past two and a half years as it is suffering from an election phobia.

He said, the sinister tactics of the government will not be able to delay the elections any further, and added that a new group capable of solving political and national issues will come to power.

Independent Commissions

The Expenditure Heads of the President, Prime Minister, Parliament and the Independent Commissions were unanimously passed in Parliament on Friday during the Third Reading of Budget 2018 without amendments.

When the Third Reading debate commenced on Friday, 24 Expenditure Heads were taken up during a full day’s debate and approved without amendments and any division. President Maithripala Sirisena was present in Parliament on Friday during the debate on the Expenditure Heads of the President’s Office. 

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