By Shabiya Ali Ahlam
The government has yet again failed to implement the vast majority of the budget promises, even with an ‘Implementation Unit’, which was supposed to have been established under the Finance and Mass Media Ministry, to specifically track the progress of the budget proposals and report on them.
With only 8 percent of the promises made in the 2018 budget being fulfilled or making some progress, within the first half of the year, an analysis of the budget proposals and their status suggests that the Implementation Unit has not fulfilled its duties.
The unit that was set up by Finance and Mass Media Minister Mangala Samaraweera, as proposed in the 2018 budget (proposal 297), was said to be headed by Finance and Mass Media Ministry Senior Advisor Mano Tittawella and Economic Advisor (to the ministry) Deshal de Mel.
The unit was responsible to monitor the implementation of the proposals and make available to the public a progress report on a monthly basis.
While no such report has been released since the establishment of the unit, economic think tank Verité Research shared with reporters yesterday that in their efforts to update an online budget tracker platform, budgtepromises.org, the Finance Ministry’s National Budget Department had told them that no such unit exists.
According to the National Budget Department, those requiring information regarding the progress of the budget proposals must file a Right to Information (RIT) application to the relevant ministries as no compilation is being done at the Finance Ministry.
Although National Budget Circular No. 03/2017 affirmed the establishment of such a unit, under the National Budget Department to “monitor the implementation of all capital projects, including the budget proposals”, the Finance Ministry had responded to an RTI requesting for the same stating “no unit is established in the National Budget Department under the budget proposal 297”.
Meanwhile, Verité Research said the progress reports forwarded by individual ministries, in the absence of the Implementation Unit, were lacking consistency in tracking and reporting of any progress made on the relevant budget proposals.
The think tank also pointed out that despite filing RTIs, not all the ministries were keen on sharing any progress reports.
The least cooperative ministries, according to Verité, were: Agriculture Ministry, Education Ministry and Highways and Road Development Ministry.
Whereas the most cooperative ministries were: Irrigation and Water Resource Management Ministry, Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Ministry and Housing and Construction Ministry.
With regard to the fulfilment of the 2018 budget promises for the period from January to June, 59 percent of the proposals are lagging, 5 percent neglected and 2 percent broken.
The status of the remaining 26 percent of promises remains undisclosed by the relevant government authorities.