Sri Lanka approves budget with huge majority

November 29, 2010 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s parliament approved the country’s first fully-fledged post-war budget on Monday with a two-thirds majority, officials said. Rajapakse, who has a strong grip on power in Sri Lanka after overseeing the defeat of Tamil Tiger rebels in May last year, raised taxes on casinos, alcohol and international phone calls. The annual budget for 2011 unveiled by President Mahinda Rajapakse a week ago was passed by 150 votes to 46 in the 225-member legislature, along the lines of the ruling party’s two thirds majority, officials said.

Rajapakse, who is also finance minister, unveiled new tax measures to reduce the 2010 deficit of 8.0 percent of GDP to 6.8 percent of GDP in 2011, the lowest in 19 years.

However, the budget will see a six percent rise in defence spending to 215 billion rupees (1.9 billion dollars) for 2011, about a fifth of the national budget, according to figures tabled in parliament.

The defence budget remains high to repay hefty installments on military hardware bought to fight the Tamil Tigers.

“Having ended the war, and with vital infrastructure in place, we are now in a better position to engage in an