President and Finance Minister Mahinda Raja-paksa’s 2015 Budget was comfortably passed in Parliament yesterday, with no crossover dramas to mar the process to allocate monies to meet recurrent, capital and other State expenses next year.
At 5:30 p.m. yesterday, the vote on the Third Reading of the Budget was taken by name and was passed with a majority of 95 votes.
The Government, which was beleaguered by defections late last week, received total 152 votes in favour.
There were 57 votes against from the UNP, TNA and NDP and 15 MPs were absent. In a noteworthy development, the seven MPs from the UPFA who defected to the Opposition were not in Parliament during the Third Reading of the Budget yesterday.President Rajapaksa’s former Health Minister Maithripala Sirisena, who declared himself the common Opposition challenger in the 2015 presidential race last Friday, was not present in the House since he was travelling in Kandy and Anuradhapura..
Much-anticipated crossover dramas did not ensue, with both Government and Opposition members rumoured to be planning to pole-vault telling the House that the speculation was false.
Budget 2015 happens to be the 69th Budget of independent Sri Lanka and the 10th Budget of the United People’s Freedom Alliance Government. The Budget process for 2015 was initiated on 24 October, with the presentation of Appropriation Bill 2015 to Parliament. This was followed by the Budget Speech delivered by President Mahinda Rajapaksa on 24 October.
The Budget has since moved into committee and debate stage, in order to meet the Legislative requirements to ensure the Government allocations are passed constitutionally in the House. The Committee Stage Debate commenced on 3 November to debate and discuss the respective estimates of heads of expenditure listed under each Ministry.
The Ministry of Finance and Planning, which happens to be the last of the ministries in this list, had a full-day debate prior to the vote-taking last evening in Parliament with the participation of all members.
Opening the debate, Opposition lawmaker Dr. Harsha de Silva charged that the Government was increasing debt and burdening the public.
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