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Sri Lanka opposition plans interim budget on Jan 29

EconomyNext – Sri Lanka’s main opposition candidate is planning an interim budget on January 29, where sweeping handouts will be given, if he wins a Presidential election on January 08.

According to a 100-day plan published by main opposition candidate Maithripala Sirisena, he hopes to be sworn in on January 10 and a cabinet with Ranil Wickramasinghe as prime minister will be appointed the next day.

On January 12, draft changes to the constitution will be tabled.  On January 20 an executive committee system to monitor government activities will be set up.

On January 21 the 18th amendment to the constitution which abolished a series of independent commissions will be voided, allowing them to function again.

However to change the constitution a two-thirds majority will be needed.

Opposition forces are hoping that members of the ruling coalition will also support them if Sirisena wins the elections.

On January 28, proposals to have some legislators directly elected through a first-past-the-post system instead of the current system of 225 legislators being elected only through a proportional representation system will be introduced.

On January 29 an interim budget will be introduced where state workers will get a 5000 rupee salary increment and pensioners a 3,500 interim allowance. On January 30 taxes on a series of ‘essential goods’ will be brought down.

Though a series of handouts have been proposed, no financing plan has been given. Analysts say financing the handouts will require higher interest rates and domestic or foreign borrowing, if money is not to be printed and the currency depreciated.

Sri Lanka’s poor have in the past paid a terrible price for handouts given by the elected ruling class, egged on by a so-called ‘hartal’ protest in the 1950s which had pushed inflation up and depreciated the currency, destroying lifetime savings and salaries.

Currency depreciation is the most potent tool for impoverishing large populations and perpetuate what was invented by European ‘welfare’ state advocates.

The destruction of the currency destroys all bank deposits of the common man and the debt of the state from pension funds of old people while reducing the real repayments of leveraged speculators, businessmen, and the farming lobby.

On February 28, independent commissions will be re-appointed. Creating an independent public service and an independent judiciary has been a key message of the opposition.

On January 19 an audit bill and on January 20, a freedom of information bill will be presented to parliament.