Sri Lankan parliament approves budget proposals

December 8th, 2008 - 6:58 pm ICT by IANS  

Colombo, Dec 8 (IANS) The Sri Lankan parliament Monday formally approved President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s fourth budget that proposed to hike the country’s defence spending by nearly seven percent next year.The proposals, being debated for the past one month, were put to final vote in the 225-member parliament and according to government sources, 126 legislators voted for the budget while 84 voted against it.

The coalition partners of the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) government voted for the budget, while the main opposition United National Party (UNP), which initiated a no-confidence motion Monday against the Rajapaksa government on charges of corruption, voted against it.

The radical Marxist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), considered the third political force in the country, and the pro-LTTE Tamil National Alliance (TNA) also voted against the budget.

The defence spending was proposed to be hiked by nearly seven percent to a record of 177.1 billion Sri Lankan rupees (approx $1.6 billion) in 2009 from 166.44 billion rupees in 2008.

Despite heavy thunder showers and fierce LTTE resistance, Sri Lankan troops advancing in several directions were said to be operating on the outskirts of Kilinochchi town, considered the political power center of the rebels, lying 350 km north of here.

The LTTE has been fighting against the Sri Lankan state to carve out a separate state for Tamils in the northern and eastern parts of the island for a quarter century.

Thousands have died in escalating fighting since late 2005.

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