ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka Transport Board, an overstaffed state bus service had recorded an operational profit in 2017, after excess workers were shed by paying them 6.5 billion rupees in compensation, and fuel costs were flat, a finance ministry report showed.
The Sri Lanka Transport Board had retired 3,822 workers during 2017, saving about 146 million rupees in salaries every month, or about 1,752 million rupees a year.
The SLTB was overstaffed with clerical and other excess workers, while it did not have enough drivers in some years, in a display of the grip of state trade unions.
Sri Lanka’s Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna had resisted reform of the agency for years. Periodically large contracts are awarded by the cabinet of ministers to buy busses.
In 2017 tax payer subsidies for the bus service was 11.2 billion rupees, slightly down from 12.0 billion rupees a year earlier.
Over the last five years 48.1 billion rupees in people’s tax money has been shelled out to keep the SLTB running and pay off workers and their dues including provident fund arrears.
Outstanding statutory dues were progressively cut from 11.9 billion rupees in 2015 to 6.6 billion rupees in 2016 and 4.5 billion rupees in 2017. The Treasury had agreed to provide another 5.0 billion rupees of which 1.0 billion was given in 2017.
The SLTB earned 40.7 billion rupees in revenues up from 35.7 billion rupees a year earlier helped by a tariff increase as well as an increase in load factors, the finance ministry said.
The salary bill fell in absolute terms to 19.6 billion rupees from 21.4 billion rupees a year earlier. Fuel costs were also flat at 12.91 billion rupees, from 12.89 billion rupees a year earlier.
Before tax payer subsidies there was an operational profit of 2,598 billion rupees in 2017, before Treasury operational support of 3.9 billion rupees against a loss of 3.6 billion rupees a year earlier.
Operational support from the Treasury was 9.2 billion rupees in 2016. In addition to operational support to operate so-called non-profitable routes, the taxpayers also give subsidies for the SLTB to purchases buses. (Colombo/June12/2018)