Only 6% of 2021 Budget Promises fulfilled - Verite

Only 6% of 2021 Budget Promises fulfilled - Verite

by Staff Writer 29-08-2022 | 1:43 PM

COLOMBO (News 1st); Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe who is also the finance minister will present an interim budget on August 30th.

Sri Lanka's interim budget on Tuesday (30) comes amidst the government's ongoing negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a possible bailout package.

The IMF has laid down debt restructuring as a key element to any facility being approved.

With less than 24 hours for the budget, Verite' Research made recommendations to both the current and future governments, to improve public finance management in Sri Lanka and build lost confidence.

- Make realistic promises/policies
Devise well-formulated policies that are backed by supporting documentation on evaluation and selection criteria.

- Ensure systems to inform the public of how their taxpayer funds are being utilized
Utilize ministry websites to disclose information in a timely, user-friendly and consistent manner.

- Limit unnecessary bureaucracy
Limit the fragmentation of ministerial portfolios & ensure line of accountability when funds are disbursed. 

- Implement a robust system of checks and balances
Allow formal mechanisms for oversight already in place are allowed to carry out their functions unhindered. This includes parliamentary committees and the national audit office.

Verite' Reseach notes that greater visibility of execution is critical to improve budget credibility.

It adds that poor management of public funds has played an indisputable role in Sr Lanka’s economic crisis.

Studies conducted by Verité Research over the past year highlight lack of visibility to be a key factor that erodes public confidence in government budgets.  

The studies revealed that:

1. Sri Lanka ranks low on budget transparency compared to the rest of the world
As per the 2021 Open Budget Survey (OBS), Sri Lanka was ranked 93rd (out of 120 countries) globally for budget transparency. The country received a score of 30/100, which is a significant drop from its previous score of 47/100 in 2019. 

2. Progress of budget proposals worth Rs. 81.5 billion remains a secret
The Budget Promises dashboard by Verité Research tracks the progress and transparency of Sri Lanka’s national budget each year. Of the proposals tracked from the 2021 budget, no information was available to assess the implementation of budget proposals accounting for Rs. 81.5 billion. 

3. Only 6% of promises made in the 2021 budget were fulfilled
Only 6% of expenditure proposals tracked in the 2021 budget were classified as fulfilled. This means that the government fully implemented just 6% of the projects planned for 2021, neglecting key development projects related to provision of health services, water supply and children’s education.