July 31, Colombo: The government has so far spent over Rs. 223 billion on the treatment and welfare of Covid infected and quarantined people, Secretary to the Ministry of Finance R. Attygalle revealed.
By June 2021, the government has spent Rs. 53 billion for all Covid related expenses including treatment of Covid patients, quarantine, dry food bags and allowances of Rs. 5,000 for those infected with Covid except vaccination.
In addition to this amount, the government has so far spent over US $ 110 million to purchase Covid vaccines, the Secretary to the Ministry of Finance said, citing statistics.
Although the government has stated that the amount of money spent on Covid control is Rs. 223 billion, the number would be higher if the expenses for the army to construct Covid treatment centers, hospital beds, oxygen and other activities added, the official said.
Attygalle made this observation while participating in a discussion organized by the Government Information Department Friday (30) on 'Economic Management in the Face of the Epidemic'.
He added that in addition to the money the government has spent so far, the World Health Organization (WHO) and vaccine producing countries have also assisted in controlling the epidemic.
According to the official, tax revenue has increased by 8% in the first 6 months of 2021 compared to the first 6 months of 2020. The Secretary to the Treasury stated that this shows that the country’s economic activity has increased despite the closure of the country due to the Covid 19 epidemic.
Pointing out that achieving vaccination targets is crucial to face the economic downturn caused by the Covid 19 epidemic, the official said priority would be given to purchase vaccines. Vaccination can reduce mortality and contribute to economic growth, he added.
According to the Secretary to the Treasury, the amount of foreign loans currently taken by the government has decreased significantly compared to the previous regime.
In order to repay foreign loans without having to borrow, action must be taken to increase reserves. This can be done by increasing export earnings and remittances, he said.
The value of sovereign bonds and other debt payable by 2025 is about US $ 4.1 billion. Of this, US $ 1 billion was recently paid. The main way to succeed in debt management is to promote foreign investment.
Treasury Secretary S.R. Attygalle stressed that the main way to succeed in debt management is to promote foreign investment.