ECONOMYNEXT – The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce expressed disappointment over the absence of reforms to state-owned enterprises in the Sri Lankan government’s 2019 budget but acknowledged it was realistic in the present political context.
“The 2019 budget does not address some of the fundamental issues of the economy such as State-Owned Enterprise reform that would enable Sri Lanka to move towards a higher economic development trajectory,” it said in a statement.
The island’s main business lobby said economic growth estimates provided in the budget, presented to parliament Tuesday, for the period from 2019-2024 was “of concern as it only expects growth to gradually rise from 3 percent in 2018 to 4.8 percent by 2024."
“The growth estimates for this period is not a positive signal for the business climate,” it said.
The full statement follows:
The 2019 National budget proposes a mix of measures to balance the short-term macroeconomic pressures in the economy with the long-term development agenda. We acknowledge the efforts of the government in not delivering overly populist proposals as expected in the lead up to the budget. There exists a lack of connectivity with the overall vision proposed by the government through the Vision 2025. However, we feel it is a more realistic budget given the present political economy of the country.
The GDP growth estimates provided in the budget speech, for the period from 2019-2024, is of concern as it only expects growth to gradually rise from 3% in 2018 to 4.8% by 2024. The growth estimates for this period is not a positive signal for the business climate. The 2019 Budget does not address some of the fundamental issues of the economy such as State-Owned Enterprise reform that would enable Sri Lanka to move towards a higher economic development trajectory.
The Ceylon Chamber welcomes the inclusion of certain budget proposals formulated by the Chamber after robust consultations with its membership. We hope that these and other laudable proposals in the budget will not be confined to the speech but that timely action will be taken to implement them in consultation with the private sector. This will be further challenged given that the effective implementation of the proposals will be limited to a nine-month period. The past performance of the Government in implementing Budget proposals has been disappointing. It is our hope that Government will be serious about implementation and that the expectations from the proposals will be realized.
(COLOMBO, March 07, 2019-SB)