Sri Lanka state workers demand trebling of festival allowance

Feb 25, 2008 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s powerful state worker unions have demanded a trebling of festival allowances as inflation tipped over 20 percent following loose monetary and fiscal policies in the past year. The latest in such moves is a new increase in car taxes after state workers were given thousands of tax-slashed cars.

Updated A grouping of 40 state worker unions had demanded that a salary advance for New Year celebrations that fall in April according to a domestic calendar be increased from the current 3000 rupees to 10,000.

“We cannot celebrate our New Year due to the skyrocketing cost of living,” union chief Saman Rathnapriya was quoted as saying in The Nation newspaper.

“If the government does not increase our allowance, indicates that the government does not want its employees to have a joyful New Year.”

Consumer prices in Sri Lanka’s capital rose 20.8 percent in the 12-months to January according to a controversial new index from which an entire sub-group of expenditure had been dropped.

Sri Lanka is estimated to have around 1.3 million state workers, though the exact numbers are not disclosed to tax-payers.

The island is estimated to have one of the hi