Independent Budget Office – a must: Harsha | Sri Lanka News

An Independent Budget Office (IBO) is a must for the proper management and monitoring of public finance, expenditure and loans and therefore he would do all under his command to establish an IBO in a year with necessary legal power, SJB parliamentarian, Dr. Harsha De Silva said today.

Until then, a secretariat on interim basis would be set up for the purpose in Parliament headed by the Director of the Economic Research Department of the Central Bank, he added.

Dr. De Silva, who is also the chairman of the parliamentary oversight committee, the Committee of Public Finance (COPF) told Daily Mirror that any other sub committees under the COPF are not necessary if and when this mechanism is in place.

“The main objective of the COPF is to prevent mismanagement, incompetency and waste in utilization of public finance, public loans and public expenditure, the prerequisites for system change. It was President Ranil Wickremesinghe who first mooted the idea to establish a budget office during the yahapalana government. The main function of the budget office would be analysis, evaluation and make recommendations accordingly in respect of public finance, expenditure and loans. The members of Parliament will also be provided with a thorough analysis and evaluation of public finance via this set up. MPs must have a good knowledge on Bills presented in parliament, on Finance Bill in particular before they debate and vote ,” Dr. De Silva stressed.

When the major tax relief was given and tax cuts were introduced for sugar imports by former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa in 2021, the Parliament, the Central Bank or Inland Revenue Department were unaware. This lack of evaluation and analysis of fiscal and economic decisions ultimately led to a massive revenue loss to the state. If there was a budget office this would not have happened, Dr. De Silva pointed out.

However, Dr. De Silva told Daily Mirror that technical support was vital to make the functions of the COPF as well as of the PFO successful.

“We don’t have a Technical Staff in parliament. Therefore we must establish a technical team with proper discipline, efficiency and professional ability to serve both, he stressed. (Sandun A Jayasekera)

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