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Oral Question - Friday 25th September 2009

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QUESTIONS FOR ORAL ANSWERS

To be raised by the Hon. Ravi Karunanayake when
Parliament meets on Friday 25th September 2009



1.    0293/’09
Hon. Ravi Karunanayake, – To ask the Minister of Finance and Planning –

a)    Will he inform this House from 01.01.2005 to 31.12.2008 and 01.01.2009 to date –

(i)    The interest payable for the total debt obtained within the above period;

Answer:

Total Interest Payments 2005 – 2008

Year / Rs. (Mn.)
2005 – 120,159
2006 – 150,777
2007 – 182,681
2008 – 212,475
(Source: Central Bank of Sri Lanka)

Total Interest Payments January – June 2009

Month / Rs. (Mn.)
January – 26,522
February – 31,911
March – 22,466
April – 25,346
May – 16,898
June – 23,377
(Source Central Bank of Sri Lanka)

(ii)    SLR to US Dollar equivalent:

Exchange Rate SLR to US$ 2005 – 2008

Year / US$
2005 (as at beginning of) – 104.60
2005 – 102.12
2006 – 107.71
2007 – 108.72
2008 – 113.14

Exchange Rate SLR to US$ Jan – June 2009

Month / US$
January – 113.87
February – 114.25
March – 115.71
April – 120.13
May – 114.90
June – 114.93
(Source: Central Bank of Sri Lanka)

(iii)    Reserves against Imports Ration;

Months of Imports from Gross Official Reserves 2005 – 2008

Year / Months
2005 (as at beginning of) – 3.29
2005 – 3.72
2006 – 3.31
2007 – 3.72
2008 – 2.19
(Source: Central Bank of Sri Lanka)

Months of Imports from Gross Official Reserves Jan – June 2009

Month / Months
January – 1.25
February – 1.25
March – 1.21
April – 1.26
May – 1.46
June – 1.69
(Source: Central Bank of Sri Lanka)

(iv)    Poverty Level;

Poverty Head Count Index

Year / Percentage
2002 – 22.7
2006 / 2007 – 15.2
(Source: Department of Census and Statistics)

(v)    Number of families earning less than the Poverty Level;

No. of Persons below Poverty Line

Year / ‘000
2002 – Not Applicable
2006 / 2007 – 2,805
(Source: Department of Census and Statistics)

(vi)    Balance of payment; and

Balance of Payment – US$ Mn. 2005 – 2008

Year / Surplus (Deficit)
2005 – (205.0)
2005 – 501.0
2006 – 203.7
2007 – 530.5
2008 – (1,225.4)
(Source: Central Bank of Sri Lanka)

Balance of Payment – US$ Mn. Jan – June 2009

Month / Surplus (Deficit)
January – (319.4)
February – (578.2)
March – (688.0)
April – (633.9)
May – (475.7)
June – (191.6)
(Source: Central Bank of Sri Lanka)

(vii)    Number of families receiving subsidies;

No. of Beneficiary Families

Year: 2005
Income Supplementary Program: 1,960,664
Dry Ration Program: 98,223
Nutrition Program: 122,186

Year: 2006
Income Supplementary Program: 1,916,594
Dry Ration Program: 122,269
Nutrition Program: 186,211

Year: 2007
Income Supplementary Program: 1,844,660
Dry Ration Program: 105,105
Nutrition Program: 102,020

Year: 2008
Income Supplementary Program: 1,631,133
Dry Ration Program: 102,662
Nutrition Program: 86,480
(Source: Central Bank of Sri Lanka)


b)    Will he state, with the proof whether the country has progressed or retarded according to above (i) to (vii) ?

Answer:

The progress or the slow down of the economy could not be measured only by using above statistics.

The total interest payments of Rs. 120,159 Mn. In 2005 increased to Rs. 212,475 Mn. In 2008. The total interest payments for the first half of 2009 were Rs. 146,520 Mn. Although the absolute figures increased, government debt and interest payment as a percentage of GDP decreased by reflecting positive indication from 90.6% in 2005 to 81.1% in 2008 and 5.1% in 2005 to 4.8% in 2008, respectively.

Another notable factor is the public investment as a percentage of GDP has been around 6% during the period compared to less than 5% before 2005. These public investments resulted in more electricity/water for household, better road network all over the country, better social infrastructure etc.

The months of imports in terms of gross official reserves recorded a sharp increase to over 3 months in August 2009 supported by the Stand By Arrangement facility provided by International Monetary Fund, recently. Further, this facility has helped for the surplus balance of BOP in the third quarter of 2009.

The living standard of Sri Lanka has increased in 2006 / 2007 when compared with 2002. As per the information of the Department of Census and Statistics, the poverty head count index of 22.7 percent in 2002 was increased to 15.2 percent in 2006/2007. This was mainly due to eradication of rural poverty which has represented 80 percent of the total population of the country.

Reflecting the success of the efforts taken by the government towards eradicating poverty, the number of beneficiary families benefited from the Samurdhi Program is declining gradually from 2005.

Amidst the several impediments, the per capita income has increased to US$ 2,014 in 2008 compared with US$ 1,241 in 2005.

Currently, it is measured by Millennium Development Goal (MDGs) agreed by 91 countries all over the world. Eight goals of the MDGs are as follows –

1.    Eradicate Extreme Hunger and Poverty
2.    Achieve Universal Primary Education
3.    Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women
4.    Reduce Child Mortality
5.    Improve Maternal Health
6.    Combat HIV / AIDS, Malaria and Other Diseases
7.    Ensure Environmental Sustainability
8.    Develop a Global Partnership for Development

Sri Lanka has recorded significant progress towards achieving goals 2, 3, 4 and 5 compared to other countries.


c)    If not, why?

Answer:

Does not arise.



2.    0390/’09
Hon. Ravi Karunanayake, – To ask the Prime Minister, Minister of Internal Administration, and Deputy Minister of Defence, Public Security, Law and Order –

a)    Will he inform this House separately, as at 1st January 2007, 1st January 2008, 1st January 2009 and to date: –

(i)    the number of Army, Navy, Air Force and Police personnel; and
(ii)    the number of males and females?

Answer:

In respect of (i) and (ii) above, statistical data in relation to the Three Forces and the Police cannot be given on security reasons.


b)    Will he state –

(i)    the additional benefits given to these heroic forces personnel as at 01.01.2006; and after 17.05.2009?

Answer:

a.    Officers and the other rankers who are serving in the operational areas were being entitled for a special monthly allowance of Rs. 3,000/- and Rs. 2,500/- respectively as at 01.01.2006 in addition to their normal salary. These monthly allowances were increased up to Rs. 5,000/- and Rs. 4,500/- respectively for each rank since 0101.2009.

b.    The special arduous allowance of Rs. 100/- and Rs. 80/- paid to for the officers and the other rankers in Jaffna Brigade Headquarters Division by 01.01.2006 was extended to the service personnel of Vanni Brigade Headquarters Division since 04.10.2007.

c.    All the service personnel were also being entitled for the monthly cost of living allowance of Rs. 4,500/- which is being paid to the Public Servants since 01.01.2009.

d.    10% of Consolidated Salary, recovered from the Housing Rent Allowance entitled by the married officers/other rankers of the Three Forces was suspended from the date of 01.09.2006 and therefore, it can be considered as a 10% salary increase.

e.    Revision of the Pension of all the pensioners of the Three Forces who have retired on or before 01.01.1997 and drawn a pension as at 01.01.2006 and payment of the arrears of pensions in two stages. In the event of revising of their pension the minimum service period of a pensioner has been considered as 25 years and accordingly Officers’ pension was increased by 40% while the pension of other rankers was increased by 73%.

f.    Revision of the consolidated salary of the Three Service personnel with effect from 01.01.2006, in terms of the salary scales indicated in the Public Administration Circular No. 6/2006 and payment of the arrears of consolidated salary since 01.01.2007.

g.    Implementation of new proposals relating to grant salaries and allowances as well as special compensation in respect of the dependents of the service personnel who died/missing while in active service.

o    Payment of 25% of the salary and allowances paid to the widow of a deceased married War Hero to the parent of such person.

o    In the event of re-marrying widows of war heroes who have no children, a collective payment of compensation similar to the salary and allowances of 10 years entitled to her will be paid.

o    In the event that the widow who have children are re-marrying, payment of 50% compensation similar to 10 years salary and allowance entitled by her and the payment of balance 50% to the children on a monthly basis.

o    In the event of re-marrying widows of Service Personnel who died before 21.11.2007, entitlement to them for such benefits stated above.

o    Increase the maximum age limit of the children (both male and female) who are entitled for compensation up to 20 years as and when necessary.

o    Payment of salary and allowances to the dependents of the Three Service personnel who died on reasons other than the terrorist attacks while in active service up to the age of 55 years.

h.    Granting pension rights to the lady officers and female other rankers in the Volunteer Forces of the Three Forces who have reckonable period of service not less than 15 years similar to those of regular forces.

i.    Making provisions to contribute to the Widows and Orphans Pensions Scheme to the officers and other rankers of the Volunteer Forces of the Three Armed Forces (Extra Ordinary Gazette No. 1607/08 of 23rd June 2009).

j.    Increase of daily meal allowance of Rs. 200.44 and Rs. 182.25 paid to the Officers and other rankers of the Three Armed Forces respectively from 1st January 2006 up to Rs. 327.99 and Rs. 298.18 respectively with effect from 01.01.2009.

k.    Commencement of the Defence Services College of the children of Service Personnel of the Three Forces and the Police and admission of 180 children annually to Grade 01 since the year 2007 and increase the number of children admitted to the Grade I of popular Government Schools on operational basis up to 7 and 5.

l.    Granting loans by the Seva Vanitha Unit of the Three Forces on concessionary rate of interest in addition to above benefits provided by the Public Sector, opening of welfare shops to purchase essential items on concessionary rates, on the basis of recovering such loans from their wages, providing of essential items such as wheel chairs, mattresses, special beds and crutches to the disabled War Heroes and providing of interest free loans by the Seva Vanitha Unit of the Ministry of Defence for construction of their houses.

m.    Holding of Montessori Schools in the camps for the children of War Heroes of the Three Forces, opening of Fixed Deposit bank accounts/granting scholarships and providing medical assistance to the children of deceased/missing War Heroes.


(ii)    The number of houses been built and given to the Armed Force personnel in 2008 and in 2009 to date:

Answer:

During the relevant period more than 40 houses have been granted free of charge to the service personnel by the Seva Vanitha Unit of the Three Services, Army Additional Welfare Directorate and the Seva Vanitha Unit of the Ministry of Defence. Out of the 1509 houses which are being constructed under the Ipalogama War Heroes Housing Project, 232 houses have being fully completed under the first stage and 625 houses under the second stage have been allocated for the Army personnel. Arrangements have been made to provide 261 houses for the Navy personnel and 325 houses of Air Force personnel before the end of this year.


(iii)    Whether these houses were given free of charge?

Answer:

No.


(iv)    If not so, the payment terms; and

Answer:

The value of a house is Fourteen Hundred Thousand Rupees. Out of this Six Hundred Thousand Rupees will be incurred by the “Api Wenuwen Api” fund. The balance Eight Hundred Thousand Rupees will be recovered from the monthly salary (without interest) of the War Heroes on installment basis (within a period of 10 years to 25 years).


(v)    The names of the heroic forces personnel who received these housing benefits.

Answer:

Submitted as annexures.


c)    If not, why?

Answer:

Not applicable.