- Govt.’s total debt at Rs. 10.31 trn, audited assets Rs. 1.62 trn in 2017
- Department of State Accounts has planned to report all unaccounted non-financial assets by 2020
- Ministry notes lack of a focused agency main reason for past inaccuracies
By Nishel Fernando
The government of Sri Lanka has reported Rs. 814.3 billion worth non-financial assets for 2017, compared to Rs. 21 billion reported in 2015, under the new Computerised Integrated Government Accounting System (CIGAS) programme initiated in 2015, the Ministry of Finance and Mass Media stated.
The ministry stated that Department of State Accounts under the treasury has planned to report all unaccounted non-financial assets by 2020 under the new CIGAS programme.
The Department of State Accounts was able to report approximately Rs. 468 billion worth unaccounted non-financial assets in 2017 compared to Rs 346.65 billion (restated actual) reported in 2016.
The Controller General’s Office was established under the Ministry of Finance on 07th March 2017 as stipulated in Budget Proposal No. 368 of 2017 to focus on the management of non-financial Assets of the government.
The government’s total debt went up to Rs. 10.31 trillion in 2017, however, the audited assets of the government were only Rs. 1.62 trillion at the end of 2017.
Auditor General, Gamini Wijesinghe earlier said that the main reason for the mismatch between the assets and debt was the government’s failure to utilise loans properly and in the estimated manner for the projects. The 2017 annual report of the Finance Ministry stated: “Non-financial asset management of the government has become a priority activity, as the quality and productive use of such assets have been deteriorated due to lack of a focused agency to oversee the efficient utilization of assets, secure assets adequately and adhere to an effective system for the maintenance and improvement of assets.”
The ministry asserted that the real value of non- financial assets were not updated regularly due to the absence of an agency to have centralized records and hence the real value of the assets were not reflected in State accounts.
As the first step in asset management, the ministry stated that the Assets Management Circular No. 01/2017 was issued on 28th June 2017 to provide instructions to collect basic information of all Non- Financial Assets categorized by asset codes following the Government Finance Statistics Manual -2014 of the International Monetary Fund.
“In order to ensure the smooth functioning of the management of Non-Financial Assets of the government by facilitating the users in all government agencies and reporting real-time information, an online software system is also being developed by the Controller General’s Office,” the report stated.
Accordingly, the motor vehicle fleet of the government stood at 73,907 which included 9,315 motor vehicles not in running condition, as mentioned in the table. All government agencies have already been instructed by Assets Management Circular No. 02/2017 issued on 21st December 2017 to resolve registered ownership issues of motor vehicles and by Assets Management Circular No. 01/2018 issued on 19th March 2018 to dispose of motor vehicles not in running condition.
Ensuring representations from the central government, public enterprises and Provincial Councils including local authorities, 79 awareness meetings have been conducted to facilitate the submission of such information and also providing a platform to discuss ownership and valuation issues of these assets.