Colombo, Dec 14: Sri Lanka's ruling coalition led by President Mahinda Rajapaksa today won a crucial vote on budget, which raised the country's defense spending to 166.44 billion rupees for the year 2008.
In the 225-member parliament, 114 legislators voted for the budget while 67 members voted against. Meanwhile, 37 members of the Marxist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) and Minister of National Heritage and brother of former President Chandrika Kumaratunga, who joined the opposition minutes before the budget voting, abstained from polling.
The President had unveiled the budget for the academic year-2008 in the Parliament on November 7, declaring that defeating terrorism was prerequisite for finding any political solution to the bloody ethnic conflict.
Claiming that ''Island nation'' had maintained 7 per cent growth despite various challenges during the past two years, President Rajapaksa, who is the also the Finance Minister, said the government had prioritised the infrastructure development in its ten-year economic plan to achieve the ambitious growth rate of over 8 per cent.
The Appropriation bill presented in the Parliament in October this year showed that the proposed defence spending for the next year would be 166.44 billion rupees compared to 139.4 billion rupees in 2007.