Sri Lanka’s President stops salary increases for government employees this year – Know why
Posted on July 7th, 2024

Courtesy Financial Express

He emphasised the need for fiscal responsibility, cautioning that further unplanned salary increases could cripple the government.

Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe has announced that government sector employees will not receive another salary increase this year, warning that further pay hikes without proper planning could undermine the government ahead of the upcoming presidential and general elections.

The 75-year-old president, widely expected to seek re-election, acknowledged the economic strain caused by previous programs that increased benefits and allowances, depleting excess funds, as reported by News First on Sunday.

Wickremesinghe pointed to the Sri Lankan Rs 10,000 salary increase and additional benefits implemented under the Aswasuma” program. He emphasised the need for fiscal responsibility, cautioning that further unplanned salary increases could cripple the government.

Serving the balance term of ousted president Gotabaya Rajapaksa since mid-July 2022, Wickremesinghe stressed the importance of prioritising national stability ahead of the elections. He announced the formation of a committee to review salary adjustments, with recommendations to be incorporated into the 2025 budget, potentially allowing for salary increases next year.

The president highlighted that his administration’s approach would ultimately benefit the people and reiterated the importance of focusing on the upcoming elections, suggesting that other parties might not prioritise economic stability as effectively.

Wickremesinghe’s independent run amid economic recovery

The next presidential election is scheduled to take place between mid-September and mid-October. Wickremesinghe, who was prime minister during Rajapaksa’s ousting through prolonged public protests, successfully navigated the country through an economic crisis blamed on the Rajapaksa family’s rule.

As finance minister, Wickremesinghe resolved shortages, ended long queues for essentials, mitigated power cuts, and secured a bailout from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), a process initiated during Rajapaksa’s tenure. Sri Lanka obtained USD 2.9 billion over a four-year program from the IMF, with interim assistance from India worth USD 4 billion.

Wickremesinghe plans to run as an independent candidate supported by all political parties committed to maintaining his economic reforms. The other main opposition leaders, Sajith Premadasa and Anura Kumara Dissanayake from the Marxist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna party, have already announced their candidacies.

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