Sri Lanka’s parliament on ‘mute’ ahead of no trust vote

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s parliament delayed debating a no-confidence resolution against Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake as the sound system of the legislature broke down.

Speaker Karu Jayasuriya put off the session till Thursday morning after technicians struggled for hours to restore sound in the 225-member assembly

Thirty five opposition MPs signed the no confidence resolution against Karunanayake, a key figure in the government which has a comfortable majority in the 225-member assembly to resist any attempt to topple him.

The so called "Joint Opposition" petition said his "arbitrary, inflexible and capricious public finance management policy (was) … leading the entire economy towards total destruction."

Former president and Kurunegala district MP Mahinda Rajapaksa and his legislator son Namal (Hambantota district) did not sign the petition against Karunanayake.

A spokesman for Karunanayake said he was unhappy that the debate could not go ahead on Wednesday to prove his case and blamed the opposition for sabotaging the parliamentary  sound system.

Sri Lanka faced a balance of payments crisis after the new government went on a spending spree raising salaries of some 1.6 million public servants and reduced prices of food and other essentials after winning elections in January 2015.

Karunanayake has secured an IMF lifeline and the first instalment out of a $1.5 billion bailout was released on Saturday.

The IMF noted in a statement Saturday that Sri Lanka’s economy was beginning to show signs of strain from an increasingly difficult external environment and said Colombo must increase tax collection.

Earlier this month, Minister Karunanayake sharply raised taxes on cars and increased the value added tax (VAT) from 11 to 15 percent.

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