Sri Lanka targets 10 pct cut in total expenditure next year

COLOMBO, Oct 25 (Reuters) – Sri Lanka will curb its total expenditure by around 10 percent to 3.33 trillion rupees ($22.50 billion) in the 2017 budget from this year, a finance ministry document showed on Tuesday.

The island nation has agreed to reduce its budget deficit to 5.4 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) this year and 4.7 percent of GDP next year, as per the conditions laid out under a $1.5 billion International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan.

"We will cut the expenditure through reducing the government expenditure and better financial management," Deputy Finance Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena told reporters in Colombo.

A document by the finance ministry showed the government has planned to cut defence budget by 8.5 percent, higher education and highways by a fifth, and health by 9.5 percent.

The document did not give specific details on how the government plans to cut recurrent and capital expenditure on each ministry.

This year’s total expenditure is estimated at 3.7 trillion rupees.

A delay in value-added-tax (VAT) hike is likely to put pressure on the government’s ambitious goal of achieving the 5.4 percent of the GDP budget deficit target this year.

The plan to increase the VAT to 15 percent from 11 percent was suspended in July after two Supreme Court rulings. However, the finance ministry on Tuesday said the amended bill will be debated in the parliament on Wednesday before a voting.
 

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