President Maithripala Sirisena has temporarily suspended parliament

Sri Lanka’s budget for 2019 was approved on Friday (5) after the government of prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe foiled a joint attempt from president Maithripala Sirisena and main opposition leader Mahinda Rajapaksa to defeat it in the 225-member assembly.

The budget was passed with 119 MPs voting in favour and 74 against it. The third reading of the government budget was approved, sending the Opposition camp into disarray.

The Tamil National Alliance and the Ceylon Worker’s Congress voted for the budget with the United National Party.

The Joint Opposition and the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna voted against it, while Sri Lanka Freedom Party members were absent during the vote.

The Rajapaksa camp stated that voting against the government on Friday in the third reading would be crucial to the future of merger talks.

“We expect concrete action from SLFP members (Sirisena men) to defeat the budget,” said G L Peiris, the Rajapaksa faction spokesman.

The Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna had attempted to seek support to defeat the budget but those attempts failed.

Sirisena and Rajapaksa sides are keen to ensure a joint front to face the presidential election which is scheduled after November this year.

The leader of the House Lakshman Kiriella said that the vote showed the confidence Parliament has in the government.

At the final date of the budget debate, the opposition speakers slammed Wickremesinghe government’s “poor performance” in managing the economy.

They were harshly critical of the government for imposing 4-hour daily power cuts.

The budget, which is usually presented in November, was delayed due to the political crisis precipitated by Sirisena’s action to sack Wickremesinghe and replace him with Rajapaksa as the prime minister.

The over 50-day constitutional and political impasse was ended mid-December when Sirisena was directed by the supreme court to restore Wickremesinghe.