SLPP slams SLFP for abstaining from Budget vote

Tuesday, 19 March 2019 01:35 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • Says prior agreement had been for UPFA to vote against, insists explanation needed for coalition talks to proceed


By Nuwan Senarathna

The Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) yesterday criticised the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) for its decision to abstain from voting on the second reading of the Budget 2019, and said it must make its reasons clear to bolster confidence between the two parties, which are in talks to form a coalition. 

Prof. G. L. Peiris

The second reading of the Appropriation Bill 2019 was passed in Parliament on 12 March, with 119 MPs voting in favour, while 76 were against it. However, 30 MPs, largely identified as loyal to President Maithripala Sirisena, abstained from voting.

“SLFP’s decision to abstain from voting on the second reading of the Budget was a move to protect the United National Party (UNP) and the Government. This move has raised concerns among the members of SLPP,” SLPP Chairman Prof. G.L. Peiris told reporters at the Party’s head office in Battaramulla.

He claimed that ahead of the second reading of the Budget, United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) MPs who backed SLFP, and MPs who backed SLPP, had agreed to vote against the Budget. However, SLFP MPs’ decision to abstain from voting dented the trust of the SLPP. “UNP backbenchers warned to vote against the Budget, which created uncertainty among the members of the Government. SLFP’s work is only limited to words. If SLFP kept their promises, we might have a chance to defeat the Budget.”

However, even if the SLFP voted against the Appropriation Bill, the Government is still likely to have sufficient votes to defeat the Budget. 

Prof. Peiris pointed out that the SLFP’s decision had given a negative impression in the wake of talks between the two parties to form a broader alliance against the UNP. He noted the key factor to form a broader alliance between SLFP and SLPP depended on shared trust and policies.

He pointed out that both parties have to find a way to form common policies concerning the economy, foreign affairs, agriculture, education, and eradicating unemployment, but under current circumstances, finding common ground might be difficult. 

However, Prof. Peiris said discussions between the SLFP and SLPP would continue nonetheless.

The first round of talks between the SLFP and SLPP was held on 14 March at the Opposition Leader’s office. During the discussion, both parties agreed to form a broader political alliance against the UNP, and the next round of talks would be held on 21 March.

Following the first round of talks between the SLFP and SLPP last week, SLFP General Secretary MP Dayasiri Jayasekara told media the SLFP’s decision to abstain from voting was a decision taken based on justifiable reasons, and SLPP de facto leader Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa understood the circumstances.