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Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Sri Lanka: No funding for LG election – Govt official tells SC

Securing additional funds for an election at a time state revenue is battered by the economic crisis will be extremely challenging to the Treasury, Secretary to the Finance Ministry informed the Supreme Court.

Mr. Mahinda Siriwardana conveyed this to the Supreme Court in an affidavit submitted pertaining to a writ application filed by retired Army Colonel W.M.R. Wijesundara. The petition, citing the prevailing economic crisis, has sought a court order to defer the local government election.

In his affidavit, the finance secretary pointed out that the country’s export revenues dropped by 8.2 percent in 2021 due to the Covid-19 outbreak and as a result, the budget deficit increased by 11.6 percent in that year.

Explaining that the government spends a sum of Rs. 90 billion on state sector salary payments, Rs. 28 billion each for Samurdhi allowances and importing essential items such as medicines and fertilizer, Siriwardana explained that the government is struggling to source funds to fulfill these essential needs of the public.

In addition, the government had to incur a sum of Rs. 114 billion to settle interest payments and Rs. 169 billion for debt payments in the year 2022, Siriwardana added.

He also recalled the decision taken by the government recently to delay the salary payments for executive-grade employees in the state sector by a few days due to the prevailing situation.

Maintaining political stability in the country is of extreme importance at the moment, as Sri Lanka is trying to restore economic stability with the support of the International Monetary Fund, Siriwardana added.

Siriwardana has also underscored that managing state funds is facing a critical situation due to the limited inflow of money from external and internal sources.

Election expenditure will gravely affect the fiscal condition of the country and securing funds for the election will be extremely challenging for the Treasury, he pointed out further.

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