Sri Lanka govt concealing status of most 2017 budget proposals
ECONOMYNEXT – The status of just over half of the promises made by Sri Lanka’s government in its 2017 budget remain undisclosed, meaning the tax paying public does not know how their money is being spent, according to a new research report.
The analysis of budget proposals of over Rs1 billion by Verité Research, a think-tank, shows a marked lack of transparency by the government with the status of the progress of projects concealed either deliberately or for lack of initiative.
The research was published on a new platform, BudgetPromises.org, managed by Verité Research, with the aim of tracking the government’s implementation of promises made in the last budget, the think-tank’s executive director Nishan de Mel said.
“In less than a month the government will present a new budget and every time a budget is presented there’s a lot of attention and interest on budget proposals,” he told a news conference.
“Expectations are shaped by the budget but Verité Research has found that what is actually delivered is quite often somewhat different from what is promised.
“So the real problem is if expectations and analysis gets shaped around stuff that does not happen, it means the country is being shaped around wrong expectations and wrong analysis,” de Mel said.
The BudgetPromises.org platform seeks to help the business community, parliamentarians and society to understand how the government has moved forward on budget promises.
Nilangika Fernando, an analyst at Verite Research, said their research found that information was not disclosed on 51% of the status of budget promises, despite an obligation by ministries to do so.
“It means we don’t know the status of these promises. It means that halfway through the year we don’t know how 51% of our largest budget proposals have been doing,” she told the news conference.
“It also means that information is unknown on budget proposals costing Rs57 billion. We don’t know where this money is going. It can mean the proposals have been implemented or the money taken away.”
Fernando said that they were unable to find out even through requests filed under the new Right to Information law.
“Only a little over one-third are progressing at the moment. It means that by the end of the first half, of the largest budget proposals, only one-third is actually in progress. Of Rs116 billion allocated, we don’t know what’s going on for over half of them.”
(COLOMBO, October 24, 2017)