The main opposition UNP yesterday charged the government was printing money to spend on its promotional campaigns and maintain a jumbo cabinet.
The party alleged currency notes worth Rs 38 billion had been printed to meet these expenditure.
The party also claimed the government was spending Rs 100,000 a month as housing allowance for each minister without providing them with official bungalows.
Party Media Spokesman Gayantha Karunathilleke told journalists the government was printing money and thus reducing the purchasing power of the earnings of the people. Citing a report of the Essential Commodities Importers he said the purchasing power of the people in the urban areas had reduced by 30% and rural areas by 50%. In addition he said the inflation rate had risen upto 21% during the past month.
Mr. Karunathilleke warned the government was planning to increase fuel prices while the suppliers of gas have also warned of a price hike. He called upon the government to reduce import duties on fuel and ease the burden of the people.
`The import duty on fuel was reduced when the prices in the global market was increased during the UNP regime in 2002 and why can`t the present government do the same,?` he asked.
He said the predictions made by Trade Minister Bandula Gunawardene when he was in the opposition had come true. In this context he explained the real value of the Rs 1000 note had greatly reduced while the value of the rupee against the dollar has also depreciated further. `The Minister should work towards reducing the import duties on essential items instead of giving excuses,` he said.
Mr. Karunathilleke said the UNP would take to the streets after the Vesak poya and hold islandwide protests.