State Ministers ready to forego perks | Sunday Observer
In view of Govt’s plans to use public funds efficiently

State Ministers ready to forego perks

11 September, 2022

Although State Ministers face difficulties without Secretaries due to the Government’s decision not to appoint Secretaries to the 37 State Ministers, they are willing to put up with it for the sake of the public in view of the Government’s plans to use public funds efficiently to resolve the country’s economic crisis, State Minister of Media, Shantha Bandara told the Sunday Observer yesterday.

He said this when asked whether the newly appointed State Ministers found it difficult to handle their subjects due to the Government’s decision not to provide Secretaries to the State Ministries and also a separate expenditure head for disbursement of funds to them.

According to the President’s Media Division Press release, President Ranil Wickremesinghe had stated that all authorities should make every effort to use public funds frugally, taking into account the severe economic difficulties that the Government is facing in the current economic and social scenario in the country.

President’s Secretary Saman Ekanayake has issued an order informing the authorities that a separate expenditure head has not been allocated for State Ministries. The order states that Secretaries will not be appointed to those Ministries and that the most senior Additional Senior Secretary should be employed among the Additional Secretaries of those Ministries to facilitate the work of the State Ministers.

Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa’s Samagi Jana Balawegaya and the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna criticised the Government for appointing many State Ministers amid the ongoing economic crisis.

State Minister of Media, Shantha Bandara when asked whether the Government has to spend exorbitantly to run the State Ministries, he said that if the Opposition Leader had said so, let us not ignore the fact that the current Opposition Leader enjoys the whole gamut of privileges of the Opposition Leaders of all time.

“The expenditure on State Ministers would not be much, indeed, not unbearable, once they start producing results of the programs they have undertaken,” he said.

“The Government has imposed limitations on all our allowances, including those for vehicles and fuel. A State Minister’s salary is Rs. 63,000 and the salary of a sitting MP is Rs. 54,000,” he said, adding that State Ministers are committed to addressing the country’s economic problems now instead of increasing their privileges,” he said.

State Minister of Livestock Development, D.B.Herath, when asked about not being given a separate expenditure head for State Ministries said that this is a time to put up with difficulties and work for the country’s welfare and its people to overcome the economic crisis in the country. “We have to give something to the public. We must refrain from going for developing infrastructure excessively,” Herath said.

He said the most Senior Additional Secretary of the Cabinet Ministry would be appointed to coordinate the operations of the State Ministries, according to the President’s Secretary’s order.

“I, as the Livestock Development Minister, can channel funds through the Cabinet Ministry of Agriculture. Hence, there would be no difficulty in carrying out the tasks provided that there is proper coordination. All should work with the limitations. The aim is to save funds by all means,” State Minister Herath said.

The circular stipulates that the Ministry to which the State Ministers have been appointed should meet the staff requirements. Requests to create new posts should not be presented to the Department of Management Services. It states: For operating the offices, facilities should be provided within the office premises where the relevant Cabinet Ministry is operating.

Only the Private Secretary of the support staff of the State Ministers is entitled to an official vehicle, and the overtime and composite allowances of the private secretary’s official driver should be handled in accordance with the circulars issued by the Ministry of Public Administration, Home Affairs, Provincial Councils and Local Government.

Only two common vehicles should be reserved for other support staff officers. The other vehicles in the vehicle pool of the Ministry should not be used for the needs of the officials. The Management Assistant, Development Officer, Office Assistant and Driver should be selected only from among permanent civil servants. The drivers can receive a monthly overtime allowance subject to a maximum of 150 hours and their monthly composite allowance entitlement is subject to a maximum of eight days.

The communication allowance should be provided to the Private Secretary, Coordination Secretary, Press Secretary and Public Relations Officer subject to the approved maximum limit, and the communication allowance should include data usage, international telephone charges, monthly fixed charges, taxes and other charges. It added that the support staff should not be provided with mobile phones at Government expense.