Sri Lanka needs reforms to bloated govt sector to drive growth: Eran

Eran-Wickramaratne-5

Aug 11, 2015 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s bloated state sector, which comprises 1.5 million employees who are paid from ordinary people’s money, needs reforms to drive growth, a minister said.

“The problem in this county is not with the institutions, but with the human resources,” Deputy Minister of Highways, Higher Education and Investment Promotion, Eran Wickramaratne told a forum held in Colombo Tuesday.

“If you go to a government office and don’t get the response you want, the problem is not with the air conditioner not working, or chairs are in wrong places or the computer system is down,”

“I agree the institutions are important, but the problem is deeper than that.”

Human resources is one of the most important factors which drive the economy of a country and make a country competitive in the global market.

About 1.5 million of Sri Lanka’s workforce is engaged in the public sector.

Critics say Sri Lanka has a bloated public sector which takes up about half the island’s tax revenue to maintain.

“Sri Lanka has one of the largest public sectors in the world and the government has to do a complete study on the sector to make ideal reforms,” Karu Jayasuriya, chairman of the Leadership Council of the United National Party, said.

“The world’s average is to have one public servant for every 208 persons. But in Sri Lanka we have one public servant for every 15 people. So you can imagine the size of the public sector,”

“And eventually you are the one who pays for this.”

Sri Lanka’s public sector services more often are blamed by citizens for its confused procedures and time duration.

“The state sector employees have an attitudinal metrics problem and reforms should be made targeting to change the way these state employees look at issues and their attitudes towards issues,” Wickramaratne said.

“If you really want to take this country to the next level, you have to think radically about the human resources,”

“No country will flourish with a private sector unless there is an efficient, top performing public service with public servants who are really passionate about what they are doing.”

Wickramaratne said providing more training with international exposure and paying better wages will improve the sector to support national growth.

“They are poorly remunerated. They have no motivation. There is hardly any investment in training,”

“So public sector reforms is a must.”