Election promises set to cost Sri Lanka’s new president

Sri Lanka’s socialist president-elect Mahinda Rajapakse has set himself a challenge to deliver the raft of subsidies he promised voters in South Asia’s most liberal and war-battered economy, analysts said Friday. Sri Lanka’s socialist president-elect Mahinda Rajapakse has set himself a challenge to deliver the raft of subsidies he promised voters in South Asia’s most liberal and war-battered economy, analysts said Friday. The tsunami-hit island is already creaking under the strain of high oil prices and double-digit inflation and his bundle of goodies costed at over 50 million dollars may prove more than the country can afford, they said.

Rajapakse, 60, narrowly scraped through in Thursday’s ballot after pledging to cut the prices of products ranging from milk powder to fertiliser.

Sri Lanka’s 20-billion-dollar economy is heavily dependent on foreign remittances, clothing and tea exports and tourism.

Analysts said voters from the Sinhalese majority appeared to have been swayed by the populist subsidies, grants and tax breaks offered by Rajapakse.

Among the immediate priorities for Rajapakse is to tackle politically-unpopular reforms in the loss-making energy sector, privatisation and infras