Sri Lanka parliament should be recalled to pass vote-on-account supplement: Minister

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s parliament to should be recalled by the Speaker to pass a supplement to a four month mini-budget, Information Minister Bandula Gunawardana suggested, after the opposition withdrew support forcing the administration to withdraw the motion.

Sri Lanka’s new administration submitted supplementary estimate to a vote-on-account, seeking to spend an additional 156 billion rupees an raise an additional 357 billion rupees in debt, but was forced to withdraw the motion after opposition declined support.

Minister Gunawardana said the new administration wanted to settle unpaid dues to contractors and others through the supplement to the vote on account.

Recall

Sri Lanka’s parliament is expected to be dissolved in the first week of March by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa for elections to be held in the last week of April.

Minister Gunawardana suggested that Sri Lanka’s parliamentary speaker recall parliament to pass the vote-on-account, the state information office said.

He said ex-Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was the opposition leader the supplementary estimate would have been passed.

The government had said the additional provisions were needed to settle arrears carried over from 2019.

However former Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera told parliament the new administration had slashed taxes and got into a cash flow crunch and wanted to raise more debt

The amount of debt sought to be raised is over twice the additional spending sought for.

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Samaraweera said did not pass a full budget in November 2019 saying he was leaving room for a new administration to present a budget according to its policy framework of the new President.

President can allocate funds

Minister Gunawardana he said there would be no financial crisis in running the government until the next budget.

Even if the funds allocated in the vote-on-account was insufficient, the President had powers to draw moneys from the consolidated fund for three months, after an election was declared he said.

Article 150 (3) and (4) of Sri Lanka’s constitution says as follows:

(3) Where the President dissolves Parliament before the Appropriation Bill for the financial year has passed into law, he may, unless Parliament shall have already made provision, authorize the issue from the Consolidated Fund and the expenditure of such sums as he may consider necessary for the public services until the expiry of a period of three months from the date on which the new Parliament is summoned to meet.

(4) Where the President dissolves Parliament and fixes a date or dates for a General Election the President may, unless Parliament has already made provision in that behalf, authorize the issue from the Consolidated Fund and the expenditure of such sums as he may, after consultation with the Commissioner of Elections, consider necessary for such elections.

(Colombo/Feb22/2020)