Colombo, Nov 9 (NIA) – Sri Lanka’s Finance Minister, Ravi Karunanayaka, on Thursday presented an attractive budget for 2017, aimed at increasing investments and laying a strong foundation for economic growth.
Reading his budget speech in parliament, Karunanayaka said that the government hoped to increase trade and exports to several countries, including signing Trade Agreements with India, China and Singapore in the near future.
He further read that Sri Lanka is to begin work on setting up an Export-Import Bank (Exim) bank as there was a need for such a bank in the country. He said the Bank will be setup in Sri Lanka as a partnership between the government and the industry.
Work on establishing the Exim bank will begin next year and the government will initially deposit Rs.10,000 million.
He also said foreign buyers interested in purchasing apartments in Sri Lanka will be allowed to borrow up to 40 percent of the value from local banks, but the debt must be serviced with foreign funds.
Restrictions on lower floors will also be relaxed.
He further said that the government will set up a common booking platform for hotels in the country, to replace international booking engines.
Booking engines such as Agoda and Airbnb does not pay any taxes in Sri Lanka he said.
The government will set up a common booking platform in discussions with the hotel industry, he added.
He further noted that the government hoped to introduce a student loan of Rs.800,000 to support undergraduates who enter private tertiary education institutions. This will be available to students who qualify for university entrance but are unable to enter state universities due to the lack of space.
A quality assurance management system will also be introduced to ensure the standards of the private universities,
The students who are studying at private universities that is recognized by the University Grant Commission will be eligible to apply for the Rs.800,000 educational loan.
Karunanayaka said 300 million rupees will be allocated for this purposes this year.
The government will also issue a five year multiple entry visas for international students in the country in order to make Sri Lanka an education hub.
Further he said that Sri Lanka was inviting foreign companies to set up their headquarters in Sri Lanka in the island and such firms would not be charged corporate income tax.
He said the Asian Cricket Council has already set up its headquarters in Sri Lanka.