The Sri Lankan parliament on Tuesday approved the budget for 2019, which had been delayed for four months due to a constitutional coup triggered by President Maithripala Sirisena dismissing premier Ranil Wickremesinghe.
The budget was passed with 119 votes in the 225-member house. The main Tamil party, TNA, voted in favour of the budget, while Sirisena's SLFP party abstained from voting.
The budget was due in Novemeber last year, but it was scuttled after Sirisena sacked Wickremesinghe on October 26, triggering the island's worst consitutional crisis, which lasted nearly three months and was restored only after the intervention of the Supreme Court.
Significantly, Ceylon Workers' Congress (CWC), the trade union-cum- political party representing plantation workers of Indian origin and was acting as an ally of Sirisena, supported the budget.
Addressing the parliament, Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera said, "We have to end the culture of dependence and we have tried to develop enterprise to give independence to public through the budget proposals."
The budget raised taxes on alcohol, tobacco and gambling to pay for public sector salary increases and subsidised loans for small businesses.
Samaraweera said a large number of foreign investors left the country during the political crisis. "The damage to the country's economy during those 52 days is immeasurable. Over a billion dollars in foreign capital left the country at the time," he said.
The political crisis made international borrowing more expensive for the island nation. However, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) earlier this month revived a USD 1.5 billion bail out as the government consolidated its hold on power.
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