Sri Lanka fiscal data delayed amid political crisis
ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s fiscal data releases have been delayed following a political crisis, which derailed a budget which is usually presented to parliament in November.
Under Sri Lanka’s fiscal management responsibility law a Fiscal Management Report is published covering borrowings, spending, revenues, deviations from original plans and also interim data on state enterprises.
The report usually comes out shortly before the budget.
The Treasury also used to release monthly data covering the main items of the budget in recent years. The data has not been updated since June.
Sri Lanka’s President Maithripala Sirisena appointed ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa as Prime Minister on October 26 despite not having a parliamentary majority, de-railing the budget. A vote on account had since been presented to parliament.
Sri Lanka no longer has an independent public service headed by permanent secretaries and when a cabinet is dissolved the secretary of the ministry also loses office, generating conditions of unusual instability according to critics while blurring the line between the public service and political establishment.
The replaced ‘impermanent’ secretary has since been re-appointed.
Political and economic analysts have traced the breaking of institution of permanent secretaries, as a key trigger in the deterioration of the public service and the rise of corruption, which reduced the freedoms of ordinary citizens and their right to equal treatment.
A new constitution in enacted in 1979, in addition to undermining the public service, strengthened the powers of the state and rulers, going against the principles of constitutionalism, helping promote arbitrary and authoritarian rule, hurting economic and civil freedoms, according to critics.
The judiciary was also compromised after a new constitution but amendments had since been made that had restored the independence of the judiciary and some senior public officials. However the problem of impermanent secretaries remains.
A soft-pegged central bank had meanwhile triggered high inflation and currency depreciation, ending the freedom of the poor to have sound money, leading to trade restrictions and exchange controls and reducing real wages (the inability to earn a living wage despite getting annual increments).