Government plans full budget vote in February

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Sri Lanka’s finance ministry said Monday that it will present next year’s full budget in February after the parliament approved a 1.77-trillion-rupee stopgap measure to cover public expenditures over the first four months of 2019, averting a government shutdown January 1.

The country had no functioning government for nearly two months, and faced the prospect of being unable to use state funds from Jan. 1 and potentially defaulting on a foreign debt repayment of $1 billion due on Jan. 10.

Parliament approved the vote on account which included a 970.4-million-rupee allocation for debt servicing in the first four months of 2019 and also gave permission for the government to take up to 990 billion rupees in new loans.

Presenting the measure in Parliament, new Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera said the vote on account had to be presented because there wasn’t enough time to prepare a full budget for 2019.

He said that if the political crisis had continued, “the country would have plunged into a worse situation than Greece.”

Finance Ministry spokesman Ali Hassen said Monday that the government will present a full budget for next year in February, the Associated Press reported.