Trincomalee, Sri Lanka, 6 November 2019: The Eastern Provincial Council (EPC) has launched Sri Lanka’s first ‘Citizens Budget’ at a ceremony in Tricomalee. The Citizens Budget - a vital tool for public accountability and increased civic participation - has been developed exclusively for the public, and presents the budget in a more simple less technical format, enabling citizens to gain a better understanding of how public finances are managed and used.
Presented to the public by Mr. Sarath Abegunawardana, the Chief Secretary of the Eastern Provincial Council, the budget launch was attended by government representatives including Mr.Palikahara the Chairman of the Finance Commission, civil society organizations from the Eastern Province, academics, and the members of the public. The development of the final document, which has been designed to be visually appealing as possible, so as to explain in a creative and simple way where the funds of the provincial council come from and on what they are spent on, was supported the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
Mr. Sarath Abayagunawardana, Chief Secretary, Eastern Provincial Council said “The Eastern Provincial Council is committed to working towards the development of the province and creating a budget that is truly for the people, and this Citizens Budget is a move in that direction. We hope this document, which is the first of many to come, will be embraced and used by the population”
Mr. Tim Sutton, UNICEF Representative in Sri Lanka added “Every child in Sri Lanka has rights , enshrined in the Convention of the Rights of the Child, which the Government of Sri Lanka signed 30 years ago and recommitted to earlier this year. Yet, to fully deliver these rights, it is essential that governments make appropriate investments. A citizen’s budget provides a critical way for citizens to see, and understand what investments are being made for children, and call for changes if needed. We applaud the Eastern Province for this trailblazing work. This budget will enable more citizens to be aware of and participate in decisions that will impact their future, and that of their children.
The multi-ethnic Eastern Province is home to approximately 1.7 million individuals, of which one third are children. During the preparation of the budget, the EPC held meetings in Ampara, Batticaloa, and Trincomalee to consult citizens whose insights shaped the final product.
The Eastern Province’s Citizens Budget:
- Contains the 2019 budget for numerous ministries and their line departments. For 2019, the total Eastern Provincial Council budget was Rs. 29,147 million, 82% of which comes from grants from the central level, 17% from revenue generation, and 1% from foreign funds.
- Outlines the Eastern Provincial Council’s responsible for providing basic service delivery and guiding, monitoring and facilitating daily administration; supporting small infrastructure, community development and developing institutional capacities. There are more than 40,000 people employed under the Eastern Provincial Council at varied levels. This includes executive officers, 22,000 educational staff, 13,000 health workers and frontline officers for major socio-economic sectors such as rural development, rural industries, local government, social service, probation, cultural affairs, sports, agriculture and animal husbandry.
- Details how the budget of the provincial council is divided between recurrent and capital spending, amongst sectors, and amongst the three different districts, highlighting allocations to some key social sectors, including:
- 67 per cent of the entire provincial budget goes towards paying salaries, and another 20 per cent for other recurrent expenditure, like maintenance and goods and services.
- In 2019, the education sector received the largest share of the Eastern Provincial Council’s budget with half of the entire budget. The health sector received the second highest share, approximately one quarter of the provincial budget. Ministry of Local Government received around 12% of the provincial budget, and the agriculture sector received around 5%. Other sectors account for the remaining 9% of the provincial budget. In terms of capital budget allocated to the provincial council, 38% was directed to Batticaloa, 37% to Ampara and 25% to Trincomalee.
The Open Budget Survey (2017), a comprehensive international analysis and survey that evaluates whether governments give the public access to budget information and opportunities to participate in the budget process, scored Sri Lanka 44 out of 100 on transparency, pointing out that the country provides the public with limited budget information. On public participation, Sri Lanka scored 11 out of 100, given the few opportunities for the public to engage in the budget process. A key recommendation of this survey was the publication of a Citizens Budget.
The launch of the Citizens Budget is an important step towards budget transparency, participation and accountability. The Citizens Budget 2019 is available in two formats (a longer version and a brief 4-pager) in Tamil, Sinhalese and English at www.ep.gov.lk
About UNICEF Sri Lanka
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere. For more information about UNICEF Sri Lanka, visit www.unicef.lk