Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The biggest Big Government

Karu Jayasuriya, Sri Lanka's Minister of public administration has confirmed something I've been saying for a while on this blog : Sri Lanka has the world's largest government. That's in addition to having the largest cabinet (literally) and having an enormous legislature.

Here's an LBO report on what Karu said at a Sri Lanka Administrative Services Association meeting:
"From our population (21 million), there is one public servant for every 17 citizens and that is the world biggest public service sector," public administration minister Karu Jayasuriya said. [..]

The island's public servant to citizen ratio is larger than India's ratio of one to 80 citizens and USA's ratio of one to 240, he said.

"The state sector is too big for a poor country like ours… Some sectors are filled from various appointments given at various instances and for different reasons."

Last year Sri Lanka earned 508 billion rupees in taxes, but 282 billion went for the salaries and pensions of state workers, indicating that 55 cents out of every tax rupee collected went to state workers. [..]

The public sector expenses grew mainly because of hiring of unemployed graduates, new recruitments to the public sector, including the security forces, and payment of allowances.

Sri Lanka also has more than 100 ministers. Jayasuriya himself crossed over from the opposition and helped make the magic number.

Jayasuriya says that despite the overstaffing, the administrative sector in the public service has a dearth of 1,600 employees. [link]

Now read that last line again, there's a dearth of employees despite overstaffing? are you kidding me?! Sigh. This sort of nonsensical situation is only possible in governments.

But despite correctly identifying Sri Lanka's Mega Government as a problem, Minister Jayasuriya goes on to "appeal to public sector employees to provide a responsible and productive service". Right. Were they really waiting around for Karu Jayasuriya to come and tell them to be "responsible and productive" ? This patronizing has to stop, policy makers need to come to their senses and start cutting down on this massive government, that's the need of the hour. Public sector won't become productive if their overstaffed. That defies logic. If they do this, if we decide cut down the size of government, then our taxes can be lowered or put to better use, instead of being eaten up to pay salaries of bureaucrats.

Like I've said before, this is not a debate of Big-government Vs. Small government. This is a debate between Mega Government Vs. Biggish government and on this, there's only one reasonable side.

Related posts on Deaned : Where your taxes Go, The myth of the open economy, obstacles to growth


Lady divine said...

you can only expect these things in a 'land like no other'....sigh...

quite sad....very sad...

Ajay said...

Deane, I'm really glad you are talking about these issues. I 've spent about six months in your lovely country, the system managed to shock an Indian. That should tell you something :) It's a shame and yes lady divine, very sad.