President Mahinda Rajapaksa met all stakeholders in the country including farmers, fishermen and three wheeler drivers prior to the preparation of the budget, Dr. P. B Jayasundera, Finance and Planning Ministry Secretary said yesterday in an interview with SLBC Chairman Hudson Samarasinghe.
"We met farmers in all parts of the country and their inputs were used for preparation. The government's aim is to create an indigenous economy based on a 10-year plan implemented by the government by 2016. The budget is aimed at promoting Sri Lankan production to compete with the imported products. The country is striving to be self-sufficient in B-onions, dried chillies and potatoes," Dr. Jayasundera said.
He said the country can save US $ 250 million if it succeeds in becoming self-sufficient in these crops. Dr. Jayasundera said the B onion farmer received a higher price for his crop. "What the President wants is to increase production."
He said the President has told farmers that he would impose tax on imports on these items to stabilize the price in the market. This decision helped farmers receive higher prices for their products, Dr. Jayasundera said. He said the President has decided to grant a certified price to farmers for their produce despite price fluctuations in the world market and in the local market.
Dr. Jayasundera said the government has not imposed a levy on bread or taxed any other locally produced item. He said over 70 percent of the people in the country are still living in rural areas. "These people are involved in some sort of production."
"The budget is aimed at encouraging local production while ensuring consumer protection.
He said the people are using more and more rice flour.
The government has no need to impose tax on wheat flour as the country imports wheat as seeds and processes it here and imports to other countries. Tax is imposed by the government only to protect the local farmers. The price of B onion and potatoes stabilized recently.
Sri Lanka has a surplus of rice after many decades, Dr. Jayasundera said.
The President decided to grant a stock of 50,000 MT of rice to the WFP, he said. Dr. Jayasundera said Sri Lanka was donating its food crops to people suffering from the lack of food.
" Poultry farmers requested the President to provide them facilities to export their products," he said.