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Sri Lanka state workers grow 30-pct over decade

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s state and state-owned enterprise workers, excluding the military, grew 30 percent to 1.1 million from 2006 to 2016, a survey by the state statistics office has found.

The survey includes the central government, provincial government, statutory bodies and state enterprises.

During the last regime, a bewildering array of companies were incorporated as subsidiaries and sub-subsidiaries of SOEs under the Companies Act, which analysts say would be difficult to track. Many have also been avoiding the scrutiny of the parliament’s Committee on Public Enterprises.

The Census Department report said it did not include the three services, but includes workers in the ministry of defence.

According to 2015 data released by the Finance Ministry, Sri Lanka had 272,000 in various branches of the military and 84,000 policemen.

Assuming the numbers were broadly unchanged Sri Lanka could have a total public sector burden of 1,474,000 state workers, compared to 1,316,863 (Finance Ministry 2015) or 1,365,820 (Central Bank 2015).

Finance Ministry data showed that 88,000 so-called ‘development officers’ had been recruited to the state service between 2005 and 2015.

This compared with 11,000 medical officers, 33,000 nurses and 3,579 midwives.

Each year, around 30,000 workers become pensioners, while some pass away. According to Finance Ministry data, the number of pensioners grew from 430,153 in 2006 to 564,472 in 2015.

The census department survey found that 84,000 employees were above 55 years of age. Of that, 30,013 were in the central government, 31,055 in provincial administrations and 23,016 in semi-government agencies.





About 17.8 percent of state workers or 196,128 had not passed the General Certificate of Education Ordinary Level examination.

There were 209,153 persons with degrees. Graduates of Sri Lanka’s state universities who are unemployable in productive sectors are among key burdens on the people. They agitate and demand jobs at the expense of taxpayers and lifetime pensions.

There 3,296 with doctoral qualification. Of that, 451 were in the central government, 188 in provincial government and 2,657 in semi-government bodies.

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