Free and Open Access to
Public Finance Data and Analysis
Verité Research says progress unknown of 2023 Budget proposals accounting for 89% of funds

Verité Research on Wednesday revealed that Budget 2023 proposals to the value of Rs. 43.8 billion or 89% of the funds allocated, the Government was not able to provide information on progress.

As per the annual evaluation done by Verité Research, 25 highest-value expenditure proposals in the Budget speech for 2023 had a total allocation of Rs. 49.3 billion. 

It recalled that in 2022, progress was not known on proposals that had 93% of allocated funds. Since 2017, these last two years have been the two worst in terms of information available on the highest value Budget proposals. 

 Looked at by number rather than value of the 25 proposals, information was made available to assess the progress of 18 proposals (72%). This is a notable improvement from 2022, which was an all-time low on information disclosure – only 29% of the proposals (7 out of 24) could be evaluated for progress based on the information provided. The 18 proposals with progress information available for 2023 amounted to only Rs. 5.4 billion – just 11% of the total allocation.

Visibility is particularly low around budgeted social welfare payments, which received the highest allocations as Budget proposals in the last two years: Rs. 26.8 billion in 2022 and Rs. 43 billion in 2023. In both years the Government failed to disclose information on the progress of these proposals. 

This deficiency in information is also apparent from Sri Lanka’s score in the Open Budget Survey (OBS). The Budget transparency score (based on availability, substance and timeliness) was 37 out of 100 in 2023, well below the global average of 45. The OBS is the world’s only independent, comparative assessment of public access to central Government Budget information.

By number of proposals only 16% (4 out of 25) were fully implemented in 2023. An example of non-implementation is the Budget proposal to spend Rs. 500 million to improve child nutrition. 

The Ministry of Finance (MoF) informed Verité Research that the Ministry of Health (MoH) was responsible for implementing this proposal. The MoH responded to an RTI request on this proposal stating that it had submitted a proposal requesting funds from the National Budget Department of the MoF but had not received the funds. 

The findings are contained in the latest end-year Budget promises assessment of Verité Research, which assessed progress up to 31 December 2023. The document also makes recommendations for improvement.

The document sets out several recommendations for improvement. Three highlights are to: 

  1.  Improve oversight of Budget implementation by the Ministry of Finance (MoF) and legislative committees, such as the Committee on Public Accounts (COPA) and Committee on Public Finance (COPF).
  2. Publish supporting documents with assumptions and analysis behind the proposals so as to ensure they are well-formulated and achievable.
  3. Comply with proactive disclosure requirements of the RTI Act and disclose timely information on the ministry websites. 

For more information about the proposals tracked, responsible agencies and other findings, visit the online dashboard “Budget Promises”, housed under the platform of Verité Research

Verité Research says progress unknown of 2023 Budget proposals accounting for 89% of funds | Daily FT

Daily FT