By Niranjan Rambukwella –
In 2015 our government will only spend Rs.12,150 to educate the average primary or secondary school student for the entire year. This is because Sri Lanka’s education budget for 2015, which pays for all teachers’ salaries, school infrastructure, and any other money spent by the Ministry of Education, will only be 364 million dollars. For some context, Sri Lankan Airlines lost 157 million US dollars in 2012 and building the Mattala airport cost 209 million US dollars.
Sri Lanka plans on spending over two billion US dollars on defence. 1.74 billion of this sum, 12 percent of the country’s total expenditure, will be spent on the Army, Navy and Air Force alone. Much of the remainder will be spent on the coast guard, civil security, registration of persons etc. Contrary to popular perceptions only 200 million US dollars, or 9 percent of the defence budget, has been allocated for development activities.
We will only spend 74 million US dollars on our foreign ministry in 2015. Sri Lanka has 51 diplomatic missions abroad, so that’s less than 1.5 million US dollars per mission per year – not to mention the cost of the foreign ministry’s vital Colombo operations. Despite Sri Lanka’s precarious international relations – with increasingly strained relations with the West, the OIC, other states in the Global South and possibly even India – the foreign ministry’s budget increased by only 0.5 percent. By contrast, the government budget as a whole increased by 18 percent.
40% of the 14 billion US dollar budget is controlled by the President, who is the Minister of Law & Order; Highways, Ports and Shipping; Defence & Urban Development and last but not least Finance & Planning. Just for good measure, Basil Rajapaksa controls another 6%. Therefore, the average expenditure controlled by the remaining 65 members of Cabinet is a mere 115 million US dollars per year.
Unlike all other ministries no breakdown of the Highways, Ports & Shipping ministry expenditure was provided in the Appropriation Bill. This ministry accounts for 11% of all government expenditure. On the other hand a basic breakdown was provided for the tiny Ministry of National Languages & Social Integration which accounts for only 0.04% of the budget.
 The last education census, conducted in 2008, counted 3,929,234 students in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka’s education budget was USD 364,332,304. This means expenditure per student was USD 92 per annum.
 Appropriation Bill 2015, P.g. 11
 Appropriation Bill 2015, P.g. 16