Peoples’ Burden

April 15, 2009 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s over-staffed and inefficient state-owned bus and railway services made heavy losses in 2008 despite higher revenues after fare increases, the central bank said. Still, despite the average railway fare increase of 42 percent in 2008, it was not enough to generate a profit.

“However, the fare revision in 2008 was not sufficient to mitigate the already weakened financial position of the SLR,” the central bank said.

Apart from the loss-making rail and bus transport systems, the government is now also subsidising a budget airline, Mihin Lanka.

The government has allocated six billion rupees to the airline in this year’s budget despite its losses. “The financial position of the Sri Lanka Transport Board (SLTB) continued to remain weak in 2008,” the bank said in its annual report.

SLTB’s total revenue increased by 16.8 percent to 17,150 million rupees in 2008 from a year ago mainly owing to bus fare hikes.

Operating expenditure also increased by 21.8 percent to 20,704 million rupees mainly because of higher fuel prices which led to an operational loss of 3,554 million rupees in 2008.

“The operational loss has increased by 53.8 percent