Disclosure better on Sri Lanka budget proposals, execution still poor
Apr 26, 2018 07:13 AM GMT+0530 | 0 Comment(s)
ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s government is now more open about the progress of budget proposals but their execution remains weak, a perennial problem successive regimes have not overcome, a new study said.
“Almost a quarter of proposals in the 2017 budget have been broken,” said Subhashini Abeysinghe, research director at Verité Research, a private think-tank which has a platform tracking the progress of budget proposals
“It means they have not been implemented in 2017,” she told a news conference.
Verité Research tracks budget proposals which allocated over a billion rupees to see if the government is doing what they are saying and whether they are saying what they are doing, Abeysinghe said.
It also tracks government openness or willingness to disclose information, without which the public cannot track progress.
Nilangika Fernando, assistant analyst at Verité Research, said the issue of not doing what the government says or poor implementation was a weakness not only of the present government but previous ones as well.
“Agriculture and irrigation and education are two sectors on which there’s always increased allocation,” she said.
“But we see under multiple governments, the spending they promise is often cut short – actual spending is a lot less.”
Spending on agriculture in 2016 was cut by 33% and education by 29%.
“If you pledge and take money away through bad planning you can’t keep your promise, so what you said at the start of the year is actually false,” Fernando said.
“There are no checks and balances to ensure governments actually deliver what they promise. There is no incentive for governments to make this information public either.
“We must make sure you hold governments to their promises. We are going to hold them accountable to it.”
However, Verité Research said government disclosure had improved.
“Last year, in the first six months, we did not know about 51% of the status of government promises – over half was not disclosed,” Fernando said.
“Compared to the first six months, the government has improved disclosure – only 11% was undisclosed.”
Still, that meant no disclosure on Rs21.5 billion worth of budget proposals.
“We still don’t know where that money has gone,” Fernando said.
(COLOMBO, April 26, 2018)