Speaking before Sri Lankan parliament, Tamil National Alliance (TNA) MP, M.A Sumanthiran, explained that whilst the party held firm disagreements with the government's budget proposals, they abstained from voting at the second reading of the budget as a gesture of goodwill as the President assured Tamil political parties that would resolve the Tamil National question.
"Right through the debate on the Second Reading, all members of the Tamil National Alliance criticized the Budget [...] However, we took a decision not to cast our votes against the Budget [...] because the President has on numerous occasions in the last few days repeatedly said that he wants to resolve the Tamil national question and has invited the Tamil parties to have discussions with him".
"We have publicly expressed our scepticism about this invitation. Nevertheless, when there is a hand that is stretched out from the President himself, we thought we must reciprocate in some way and therefore would not vote against the Budget as a signal of our bonafide in this matter” he added.
Criticism of the budget
In his criticism of the budget proposal, Sumanthiran slammed the proposed budget highlighting the failure to tackle systemic issues of corruption and the continued expansion of the military budget.
"There is absolutely no transparency; evidently large scale corruption and fraud and all that is covered up by the government, by the Central Bank , by the EPF and by the Attorney General gives absolute sanction to cover it up" Sumanthiran noted.
Commenting on the military budget, he noted that whilst "various fundamental service sectors are contracting [...] in the last two years, the allocation for the defence sector has increased by 12%".
70% of our people have dropped one meal. 50,000 children are in danger of malnutrition. Government may deny it. But those are the real facts, and you want to keep the military happy [...] so that you can suppress dissent.
Read the full speech here.