Sri Lanka state workers take home 53.6-pct of 2008 taxes

June 12, 2009 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s state salaries and pensions ate up 53.6 percent of tax revenues in 2008, while 129,135 workers were added to an already bloated public sector, which is the biggest in South Asia, the latest official data shows.

The finance ministry said 71,323 workers were added to state services in 2006, 107,505 in 2007 and 129,135 people in 2008. In 2008, 53,164 were recruited for defence, police and related services.

The central government and provincial council workers were 997,458 in 2008, up from 887,674, according to central bank data. With semi-government bodies the total went up to 1,258,000.

Many state enterprises such as the highly unionized Sri Lanka Transport Board and Sri Lanka Railways are stuffed with thousands of excess employees and get treasury subsidies.

The finance ministry said handouts to transports utilities and postal service were 10.6 billion rupees in 2009.

The minimum salary of a state worker has risen 87 percent to 15,320 in 2008 from 8,140 in 2005.

Pensions

The total pension bills increased to 74,920 in 2008 from 68,822 in 2007. There were 444,120 pensioners and widows and orphans pension recipients. In 2008, 12,053 new pensioners entered the system but 6