The Ministry of Finance, Economic Stabilisation, and National Policies has issued a circular pertaining to controlling the expenditure of state institutions, including overtime payments, travel allowances, and welfare, in parallel to the 2024 Budget.

The circular comes in the wake of strong criticism about a recent “boat cruise” by a group of government ministers at the Colombo Port, which the relevant ministry has tried to paint as an “observation tour” of developments in and around the harbour.

In issuing the circular, the Finance Ministry emphasised that in the current challenging economic environment, the fiscal space has become extremely limited due to the increase in public expenditure and public revenue. All public institutions have been ordered not to spend state funds on unassayed and unapproved events.

When contacted by The Daily Morning yesterday (14), Department of Treasury Operations Director General Dilip Silva said that the said circular was issued by the Treasury in parallel to the budget for this year.

He also noted that the circular will direct all public servants, especially administrators in the public service, to manage the funds they receive from the Government with the fullest productivity and not mismanage those funds.

It stated in the circular that since cost reduction has been recognised as a priority in short-term plans on the path to economic recovery, government expenditures should be frugal, regulations and circulars to reduce costs should be strictly adhered to, and cost-control strategies should be used to suit the nature of each institution.

However, the Ministry of Finance has instructed all public institutions through the circular that government funds should not be used for conducting festivals, gatherings, exhibitions, convocations, opening ceremonies, conferences, etc., except for functions specified in the annual estimates as national festivals and for which provisions have been earmarked.

In addition, it is also mentioned that, in order to avoid sudden purchases, needs should be identified early and procurement activities must be implemented in accordance with approved procurement plans to minimise delays. The circular allows no new recruitment to fill vacancies, even for essential positions, without the due approval of the Management Services Department.

Meanwhile, the leader of the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP)-led National People’s Power (NPP) and Opposition Parliamentarian (MP) Anura Kumara Dissanayake blamed President and Finance Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe last week, claiming that he is spending millions of money on his facilities and foreign trips while advocating for others to cut down their expenditures.

Dissanayake said that the President himself should provide an example by curtailing his own expenditures before asking others to do so.

(Sahan Tennekoon - The Morning)

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