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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 79

Sri Lankan budget: a brazen exercise in electioneering

[b]Sri Lankan budget: a brazen exercise in electioneering[/b]

By K. Ratnayake – World Socialist Web Site

With just four days to go to the presidential poll, the Sri Lankan government brought down the coming year’s budget on Tuesday in a brazen last-minute appeal for votes for its candidate—Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP). Even in a campaign that has been dominated by lies and empty election promises, this latest move is a particularly outrageous piece of electioneering.

Rajapakse is well aware that the budget, like his promises, commits the government to nothing. If he wins, it can always be changed to meet the requirements of business and international finance agencies like the IMF and World Bank. If he loses, his rival Ranil Wickremesinghe from the United National Party (UNP) has already promised to tear it up. In fact, Wickremesinghe called for the budget to be postponed, but was ignored. Rajapakse continued to insist that Finance Minister Sarath Amunugama proceed on November 8.

The budget was largely cooked up by Rajapakse and his campaign committee, which includes Wimal Weerawansa, a prominent leader of the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP). It was designed to provide limited handouts to a range of voters and to edge Rajapakse across the line on November 17. Significantly, however, the budget fails to implement the many pledges in Rajapakse’s election manifesto, signalling in advance that they will not be carried out. Rajapakse appears to have plumbed new depths of duplicity—breaking his promises, not after the election, but before it!

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