Sri Lanka pro-poor effort hit by political interference: ADB

Aug 26, 2009 (LBO) – Political interference and overlapping functions of government agencies have seriously weakened Sri Lanka’s efforts to help the poor and might even perpetuate poverty, a new Asian Development Bank report says. The public sector is too big, confused and lacks accountability, the report on ‘Poverty and human development in Sri Lanka’ said.

“Endemic weaknesses in Sri Lanka’s public administration system are likely to impede the effective implementation of pro-poor development policies and programs,” it said.

“Some programs also perpetuate poverty.”

The public administration system, which employs 1.1 million workers, “is vast and amorphous”, the ADB said.

It is characterized by “a proliferation of institutions, uncertain lines of command, confusion about responsibilities, and lack of accountability.”

The report said that diverse government institutions are involved in doing the same thing, leading to overlap and duplication of effort, and lack of coordination.

“Sri Lanka currently has 56 ministries with considerable overlaps in functions.”

The inability to insulate administrative decision making from “political capture” works against the equitable provision of key services, th