Minimise waste of Public Funds
Ceylon Today recently reported that a Rs 40 billion high-profile scanning project at the Colombo Port has come to a halt, owing to internal and external protests and bureaucratic red tape.
According to Sri Lanka Customs, the scanning project in question, which was completed around six months ago with the assistance of the US, cannot be put into operation owing to the protests launched largely by truck drivers, who claim that radiation from these new scanning system can cause a serious health hazard.
Due to this issue, the Colombo Port has to manually search all containers at the Port, which has resulted in a massive waste of public funds and time, because the handlers have to be paid a wage among other payments. It was also reported that due to this situation, the Sri Lanka Government has to pay back the monies it obtained from the US Government for the project, irrespective of whether the scanning machines are operational or otherwise. According to an official who is aware of this situation, the agreement entered into by the previous regime with the US Government was a one-sided one.
This is neither the first nor the only time Sri Lanka had to suffer losses due to lack of planning and poor implementation of projects.The tragic fact is that, these types of incidents, i.e. failed projects, are not at all new to tax-paying Sri Lankans. During the past few decades, Sri Lankans have witnessed more than enough incidents involving squandering of public money. Some of these incidents took place due to authorities’ short-sighted plans, some due to lack of or poor management of funds and resources, some due to corruption, some due to lack of national policies and some due to political reasons and unwarranted interventions by various parties. Irrespective of the reason why it happened, if the tax-payers’ hard-earned money is wasted, the Government and other responsible authorities have a responsibility not only to rectify these mistakes, but also to take measures to ensure that similar failures do not recur.
Preventing the waste of public funds is as important as looking into ways to increase the national income. Using what Sri Lanka has carefully is now more important than before, because, as a lot of other countries, Sri Lanka too is struggling to revive and strengthen industries, businesses and people’s economy, after the COVID-19 pandemic. Without being limited to mere words like the previous Governments, it is high time that the Government actually implements strict and innovative plans to put an end to waste and misuse of public funds. Even though achieving this may not be an easy task and will certainly require a lot of time and effort, protecting Sri Lanka’s public service and the public from those who waste public funds is a timely need.
Sri Lanka’s economy hit by COVID-19 needs to recover; people’s daily lives need to be restored; the country’s affairs need to return to normalcy; and most importantly, COVID-19 cases need to cease. So far, the Government has taken admirable steps to control COVID-19 and to revive the country’s economy, which resulted in Sri Lanka being named as one of the very few countries that have successfully controlled the spread of COVID-19. Stopping the import of non-essential goods is also one such move, which is currently in effect. The Government is determined to devising plans to revive the economy in each and every possible way, including but not limited to, increasing the country’s income, and bringing to an end the wasting of public funds and resources in the public sector. In this context, saving every rupee, in every possible way, is of utmost importance.