- Bill covers Govt. expenditure for this year
- Govt. expenditure this year estimated at around Rs. 2,538 b
- Journalists barred for coverage for second sitting day, citing COVID-19 threats
- PM will present Govt.’s first Budget to House next week
By Chandani Kirinde
The Appropriation Bill for 2020, which details Government expenses of this year, including the funds withdrawn from the Consolidated Fund under the authorisation of the President between March and August, will be debated and passed today.
Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa in his capacity as Finance Minister, will move the Second Reading of the Bill. The debate will begin at 10 a.m. and will conclude by 5 p.m., Parliament officials said.
The expenditure of the Government for 2020, according to the Appropriation Bill is estimated to be around Rs. 2,538 billion, for the service of the period beginning on 1 January and ending on 31 December. The limit on borrowings this year is Rs. 2,650 billion according to the Bill.
For the second sitting day, journalists are being barred from covering proceedings, with officials citing COVID-19 as the reason.
Three MPs who come to Parliament from prison, namely MPs Premalal Jayasekara, Rishad Bathiudeen and Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan alias Pilliyan, are unlikely to be brought to the House given the heightened threat of COVID-19 in prisons, they said.
Meanwhile, the Committee on Parliamentary Business yesterday decided to allocate 19 days for the 2021 Budget debate. The Budget will be presented to Parliament by the Prime Minister on 17 November.
Secretary General of Parliament Dhammika Dasanayake said the Second Reading of the Appropriation Bill will be debated from 18 to 21 November, while the Committee Stage will commence on 23 November and conclude on 10 December.
The Government attempts to restrict the budget debate to 11 days was resisted by the Opposition, and hence additional days have been allocated.