I for one was a champion of this new Budget in November last year, which I believed would transform Sri Lanka in a new direction.
Bud sadly it was not to be, as we live in a Country with an Island mentality, more like FROGS IN A WELL totally blind to the rest of the world, and we just could not accept change.
So what did we get? A daily change, a constantly moving Goal Post so to speak, where I don’t know from day to day, what decisions I must make for the benefit of the Company that I am trying to grow, and expand along with what I hoped was a rapidly expanding Sri Lanka Economy.
I have to make a big investment decision on buying some expensive equipment so we can increase our production capacity by at least 100%, that’s a big step, but the ever changing taxation changes and interest rate and exchange rate uncertainty is putting a damper on what the right decision should be.
First we were told that all staff have to be given a pay raise of Rs2,500 a month, but that has not been passed in Parliament!
Then we were told we would be reducing the tax rate from 28% now to 15% next year for Companies, that would be significant, and the Investment decision on whether to expand depends in part on this benefit too. Now we don’t know if that will change for next year or be 17.5% as proposed by the PM in his statement yesterday.
It really looks like the parliament wasted a whole month of budget debates, when almost all the proposals are now different, and they will have to go through more debates on this one!
Then we discover every day that there are hidden loans that keep emerging, ones that the previous administration, took but this Govt. has only just found! Is it because the Treasury did not know, or that there are saboteurs in the PUBLIC service who are withholding information from the PM/Govt. I don’t know!
Under these mad made barriers of information withholding, we the Private Sector are held to ransom. It is the Private Sector that is the Engine of growth of this Economy and it is time we are cut some slack. It is not merely reducing the taxes that the Govt. believes is enough to keep us happy, it is certainty or less uncertainly that we prefer.
It seems that no one in Govt. understands these simple basics of doing business, and holding all these EASE OF DOING BUSINESS seminars does NOT matter a hill of beans if these goal posts change with the flow, and are explained away that this is the same all over the world, especially the present with the crisis in China with their stalled growth affecting everyone and every thing!
It was interesting that the Finance Minister was absent when the PM made his statement in Parliament. Considering the gravity of the accusations, it calls into question whether there is a difference of opinion on how the economy should be guided, as almost none of the Finance Minister’s Budget proposals have been enacted.
Further to the point, it was interesting that on the same day, PM had a dana for 1000 Buddhist Clergy at Temple Trees in the morning, then he had a Govt. Mps meeting there, and then Parliament, so this statement had to be read out at the Investment Seminar, also yesterday, where he is trying to attract foreign investment and his actions and words contradict each other on the same day.
The irony is not lost on me, but totally not even felt by anyone in Parliament!
Interesting though the above link is to the Chinese Web News Website!
Also on the same day, the stock market tanked with the threat of CGT!
In conclusion, it is NOT lip service, but action that Investors need, and no amount of Investment Fora will make a difference, unless words are followed by evidence, because investors gingerly test the waters for unpleasant odors emanating from the nether parts of seemingly palpable pronouncements. No more false promises please, we have seen too many mirages already!