Candy Man

Sri Lanka plans to lean on foreign aid and debt relief to trim its deficit, though Tuesday’s budget will be sugar coated to woo voters in the run up to next week’s keenly contested presidential poll. Sri Lanka plans to lean on foreign aid and debt relief to trim its deficit, though Tuesday’s budget will be sugar coated to woo voters in the run up to next week’s keenly contested presidential poll. “We will use the tsunami pledges and the benefits of debt relief,” to cut next year;s budget deficit to 8.5 percent of gross domestic product, Finance Minister Sarath Amunugama told reporters on Monday during the traditional pre-budget briefing.

International donors pledged US$ 3.2 billion in aid and around US$ 300 million in debt relief to help Sri Lanka recover from last year’s tsunami. But much of the aid is still trickling in, with most of the rebuilding work undertaken by international and local non-governmental organizations.

The government estimates this year’s budget deficit to be around 8.2 percent.

Nagging Deficit

Despite a large budget deficit, Amunugama said the government will increase welfare spending in health and education, to set the platform for Sri Lanka to “ente