In 2010, MP Namal Rajapaksa attended a wedding of former LTTE cadres in Vavuniya. These were the cars parked outside.
My neighbor started working part-time for a Ministry. One day he came home in a Pajero, the next in a different car. He said they were ministry vehicles. I was looking thru Budget items and, indeed, the biggest single spending item seems to be vehicles. For some ministries and departments, that’s all they declare.
Please note, the ‘Some Vehicles’ category could include one car and a lot of project spending.
The data is from the latest Fiscal Management Report, specifically: “Allocations Provided by Treasury Votes under Budgetary Support Services and Contingent Liability Project up to 30th June, 2011 (Rs.)”. I don’t know what exactly that means, but I think this is only part of the spending of those ministries, it’s not like they only spend on vehicles.
Please note that I can’t isolate the vehicle spend, it’s all grouped by Ministry and Department. The ‘Some Vehicles’ slice doesn’t tell you much, but the bodies that reported only vehicle spending are interesting. It’s the single largest category of spend.
There are, however, precious few programmes or projects in there, maybe 10. Most of the 31 billion in spending seems to be on basic sustenance – vehicles and buildings. I once heard of a gentleman who was on his way out of a government institution. Determined to make the maximum of his time, he came to Colombo and asked to sleep in the office. For many government servants this is their sustenance and, perhaps more importantly, how they sustain their families and communities. But still.
I’m not saying that the government doesn’t need vehicles. I’m just not sure we need this much government. The Minister of Plantations spent 28 million on vehicles, the Minister of Livestock spent 11.65 million, the Minister of Lands spent 5.3 million and the Minister of Public Management spent 25 million. Meanwhile, the Minister of Productivity spent 44.8 million on vehicles and international travel.
I think the government should seriously look at whether we need all these ministries and if they’re actually productive. Then perhaps we could spend less on foreign cars and more on local development.