There were no cross overs from the UPFA opposition benches to the government side despite claims by Cabinet Spokesman Rajitha Senaratne that at least five UPFA rebels will cross the divide during voting time at the end of the second reading of the budget.
“It looks like the cabinet spokesman has misled the public once again“, a political observer told Colombo Telegraph.
However Ceylon Workers’ Congress (CWC) leader Arumugam Thondaman, Eelam People’s Democratic Party leader (EPDP) MP Douglas Devananda and UPFA MP Lakshman Seneviratne voted in favour.
The second reading of the 2016 Budget was passed in Parliament last night with a majority of 107 votes. A total of 159 members voted in favour while 52 voted against.
The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) and several UPFA parliamentarians of the joint opposition voted against the budget. The Tamil National Alliance (TNA), voted in favour.
Thirteen parliamentarians including former President Mahinda Rajapaksa was absent during the vote.
Other notable absentees included UNP Matara district MP Buddhika Pathirana who is at loggerheads with party leadership for not granting him any portfolio despite obtaining the highest preference votes from the district even beating the incumbent foreign minister Mangala Samaraweera.
Also government member M.K.A.D.S.Gunewardene was absent during the time of voting.
SLFP rebels Manusha Nanayakkara, and Geetha Kumarasinghe who were touted as possible cross overs to government benches too were not to been seen during voting time. Another notable absentee was Lohan Ratwatte who has been openly criticizing President Sirisena in recent times.
Meanwhile other SLFP rebels who have opted to sit in the opposition disregarded a call by their party leader Sirisena in the morning to abstain if they could not say “Yes” for the budget proposal.
All other SLFP rebels voted against the budget along with their UPFA colleagues in the opposition.
The budget proposal for year of 2016 was presented to Parliament by Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake on November 20.The Committee Stage or the Third Reading of the Budget commences on 3 December. The Committee Stage debate will be held for 15 days and the vote on the Third Reading is scheduled to be taken in the afternoon of 19 December.