Sri Lanka opposition state salary hike promise a big burden on people: minister

Dec 24, 2009 (LBO) – A steep state worker salary hike promised by opposition presidential candidate Sarath Fonseka would require 132 billion rupees to be extracted from the people through taxes each year, a government minister has warned. State revenue minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya told reporters that the monthly salary bill of state workers was now 28 billion rupees a month and the increment of 10,000 rupees per person would require an additional 11 billion rupees a month.

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“Every man woman, the Samurdhi recipients (beneficiaries of government income support) will have to bear this burden through taxes,” Siyambalapitiya warned.

However Sri Lankan politicians routinely talk of ‘the government bearing the burden’, though the state is funded either by taxes, printed money (which causes inflation) or more debt.

As a result Sri Lanka has had high inflation, a large national debt and weak infrastructure due to chronic capital under-investment.

Siyambalapitiya’s statement is a rare public admission by Sri Lanka’s ruling classes that the state can only spend money extracted from the people through its coercive powers.

A succession of Sri Lankan leaders have also pursued discriminatory a