A Vote on Account and a Budget within six months of each other ``is a very reasonable thing to do’’ and has happened three times in Sri Lanka in recent years and many times in India, Investment Promotion and Industrial Development Minister G.L. Pieris said on Friday.
``I’ve done it myself as deputy finance minister in the Chandrika Kumaratunga government,’’ he recalled. ``There are three legitimate options in this regard – it can be either a regular budget, a vote on account or an interim budget as has been done in India. It is a matter of discretion for the government.’’
When the UPFA government was elected to office in Aug. 1994 and the presidential election was due in November that year, he presented a vote on account instead of the budget which followed the following March.
He said that the vote on account, sanctioning expenditure from the consolidate fund will be presented in early November instead of the budget which is normally presented in the first week of November. This was a well structured instrument sanctioned by law and convention.
Meanwhile President Mahinda Rajapaksa completes his fourth year in office in November and is constitutionally empowered to call a premature presidential election if he so decides.
The process of calling an early presidential election can begin after Nov. 17 and the president and his top aides are discussing whether a presidential election ahead of a parliamentary election due in April will be more advantageous for the UPFA, or vice versa.
``The question came up in the last few days and no decision has yet been taken,’’ well informed sources said yesterday. ``My guess is that the presidential election will come first.’’