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Carrying an extremely heavy load on shoulder

by Gayan Abeykoon
September 11, 2023 1:00 am 0 comment

We lead our normal lives and get paid at the end of every month. We somehow manage with our monthly salaries. But no one knows the burden that is on the Government when governing this country. We talk about income, expenses and the way forward for Sri Lanka.

According to the Cabinet Spokesman Minister Bandula Gunawardhana, the total annual income of the Government is only Rs. 1979 billion and the Government expenditure is Rs 4472 billion. Annually the Government spends 74 percent of its income to pay public servants’ salaries and pensions. The Government spends Rs. 956 billion to pay monthly salaries of public servants and another Rs. 309 billion to pay pensions for the retired public servants. In addition to this the Government spends Rs. 506 billion to pay social welfare scheme benefits to Aswesuma recipients, Samurdhi recipients etc. Out of the Government’s annual income which is Rs. 1979, the Government spends Rs. 1771 billion (74 percent) to pay public servants’ salaries, pensions and social welfare benefits. This is the current situation of the country.

Nothing can be done about the Rs. 309 Billion annually paid to the pensioners in Sri Lanka because they totally depend on their pensions and they cannot do anything because they are aged, feeble and sick with a lot of Non Communicable Diseases. Therefore any Government is being forced to pay their pension without any deduction. The problem is with the increasing number of public servants and NOT with the pensioners.

Sri Lanka does not need huge public service at all. At the moment, Sri Lanka has around 1.5 million Public Servants at present. But, Sri Lanka actually needs only 700,000 Public Servants. There is one Public Servant for every 14 Sri Lankans. The size has doubled over the past 15 years, according to official data. Efficiency in the public service is lower compared to that of Sri Lanka’s peers in Asia, despite there being a public servant for every 14 citizens.

77 percent of Sri Lankan graduates are employed in the public service and only 23 percent of the Sri Lankan graduates are employed in the private sector. This is simply because graduates and their parents always expect the pension, five days of work, all public holidays, no work or less work, etc. Ten graduates and ten days are required to complete the work load of one day’s work load of a private sector employee! This is the bitter truth.

While the private sector employees work hard and obtain their monthly salaries, the public servants are doing nothing and get paid at the end of every month. What they do is kill time, doing their personal work during official duty hours, enjoying various benefits granted to them such as various allowances, Agrahara Insurance Scheme, use of social media, passing their duties to another public servant etc. At least they never answer a simple telephone call given by an ordinary citizen.

The story of a female graduate entering into the public sector tells the story. She gets the job, gets married and becomes pregnant. She stays at home with the full salary for four long months. Then she comes to work and gets two hours per day for one year to feed the baby. Then she obtains the distress loan and all the other benefits available to her. She spends four hours from her eight hour duty everyday to get late to report for duty, lunch, morning and evening tea, make up, shopping etc and works only four hours. Then she goes on maternity leave for the second and maybe for the fourth time !

According to a prominent Economist who was attached to the Management Faculty of the University of Sri Jayewardenepura Prof. Janaka Kumarasinghe, Sri Lankan workforce in the private sector improves and pushes upwards the Sri Lankan economy while the Sri Lankan State sector pulls it downward and weakens it. He pointed this out with all relevant statistics during an interview conducted by the State television channel, Rupavahini some time ago. The bitter truth is the private sector works hard, pays tax and feeds the public sector while the public sector wastes the funds earned by the private sector.

It is high time the Government needs to cut down the number of public servants to match the number of people living in the country (population). The Government needs to pay salaries for the public servants for the workload they complete and not for the time spent on work. These are the urgent needs of the hour.

All people who are in a social welfare scheme need to work hard and push the country forward. This should be made compulsory. Their stay in any social welfare scheme should be limited to two or three years and no family should be granted social welfare scheme benefits more than four years. The Government needs to feed only the sick and disabled. The Government should stop feeding all who can work with immediate effect.

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