Sri Lanka ministers take pay cut as defence budget balloons

Oct 12, 2006 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s cabinet announced Thursday they had stopped drawing their salaries with immediate effect as the government was set to raise its defence spending by 45 percent. Media Minister Anura Yapa told reporters that cabinet agreed to draw only allowances they were entitled to and not accept the salaries paid to ministers.

“In the present context, we have decided not to take our salaries and we hope it will set a good example to others,” Yapa told reporters here.

The basic salary of a minister is about 300 dollars a month while members of parliament get a basic salary of 220 dollars.

However, the ministers would still claim the plethora of allowances that can can push their earnings to over 3,000 dollars a month.

Earlier this month, the government announced plans to boost overall defence spending by 45 percent in 2007 amid an upsurge in fighting between security forces and Tamil Tiger rebels.

The government’s initial budget estimates placed before parliament forecast defence spending would increase to 139.55 billion rupees (1.39 billion dollars) from an estimate of 96.21 billion rupees (962 million dollars) in 2006. Some 60,000 people have been killed