Rs. one bn saved in Health Ministry austerity drive

By Don Asoka Wijewardena

Health Minister Maithripala Sirisena yesterday said that by adopting an austerity drive the Health Ministry could save Rs. 1 billion in 2013.

The budget allocation for 2013 was Rs. 125 billion. Around 95 per cent of the allocation was granted by the Treasury.

He pointed out that he had instructed Health Ministry officials not to book any 5-star hotels for seminars, workshops, media conferences and the like and to use only government-owned auditoriums for such purposes.

Sirisena added that previously the ministry used to conduct many important events in some 5-star hotels. It was only a status symbol. The ministry was not aware of the cost involved in such events being held at leading hotels. As an austerity measure, he was instrumental in holding all workshops, seminars, symposiums and media conferences in government-owned auditoriums to cut down unnecessary expenses. As a result irisenanearly Rs. 1000 million could be saved.

He said that earlier the Health Ministry used to hire cultural troupes for various functions held by the ministry. The ministry had to pay Rs. 100,000 to Rs. 200,000 per cultural troupe. But he had instructed the ministry not to hire any such cultural troupes, because in future, ministry employees would be hired to perform cultural shows. He had seen the latent talents of ministry employees which were on par with those of trained artistes.

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