Treasury opts for new rules to get AG off its back


Treasury Secretary Dr. P. B. Jayasundera yesterday (09) said that public sector institutions were following archaic financial regulations which gave the Auditor General’s Department plenty of ammunition to throw a poor picture of the state of governance in the country.

"We need new financial regulations and this is something the Treasury has started looking at. The existing regulation is well structured but it is out dated, hinders decision making, takes away responsibilities, creates an enormous amount of paper work and gives plenty of ammunition for the Auditor General to go through a check list and say everything is bad and project that there is bad governance in the country," Dr. Jayasundera said delivering the key note address at the 30 AGM of the Sri Lanka Administrative Service Association on Tuesday.

"We need new regulations to give the public officials freedom and the capacity to deliver the demands and expectations of the people. We have various statutes, legislations, controls and regulations which sometime contradict one another leading to a malfunctioning delivery process and malfunctioning governance," he said.

Dr. Jayasundera said that the plethora of regulations made it difficult for people to carry out their economic activities from running a business to building a home.

"Time and time again our credibility is being questioned. Every time you open a newspaper you see questions being raised about our honesty and our integrity. It is not because we have robbed. This is because we have failed to live up to expectations of the people," the top civil servant said.

He said he had not problem with the government’s large size.

"Economic theory says a large government is bad but this has not been proven. But what has been proven is that irrespective of the size of the government, complex administration is bad, whereas simple administration can be more affective."

Dr. Jayasundera said the existing financial regulations governing the state sector were formulated in 1968 when the Per Capita Income was around US$ 100.

"Today a lot has changed. The Per Capita Income is now US$ 3,000 and the economy is more sophisticated. We have peace. We have a singularly committed political leadership. We have infrastructure development taking place everywhere without which there can be no development. So what is missing? It is governance. Governance is what we do. It is how we operate," the Treasury Secretary said.

Earlier this year Dr. Jayasundera charged that many public institutions were poorly managed with many officials not being aware of basic procedures, urging the government to adopt a recruitment policy which went beyond politics when appointing officials to responsible positions.

Over the years, political cronyism and recruiting large number of graduates to the state sector has eroded productivity and heaped more burden on the public purse.

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