Changes in Sri Lanka budget part of new political culture: Kabir

ECONOMYEXT – The flexibility shown by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to make changes to some budget proposals was a sign of a changing political culture that should not be mis-interpreted and mis-used, a senior minister said.

"During the Rajapaksa administration nobody dared to say even ‘meek’," Enterprise Development Minister Kabir Hashim told reporters in Colombo.

"But now there is freedom to speak out. There was no freedom even for people to speak in parliament but now there is."

Changes made to the budget was not due to pressure from a single political party or group but from the point of view of the people, he said.

The Government Medical Officer Union, which struck work after the new administration tried to end tax free cars to state workers and bring tax justice to all the people is threatening to strike over several demands again.

Minister Hashim said when anti-people decisions were taken by the Rajapaksa administration the unions that are jumping to the street did not say anything.

He said the current administration had given a 10,000 rupee a month salary increase to state workers, which no previous government had.

Several independent economist however had said the budget deviated from a policy statement given by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in November.

It is not clear how the state interventions and ad hoc taxes crept into the budget.

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