BudgetCheck 2023

#BudgetCheck by FactCheck.lk, a platform by Verité Research, returned for the third consecutive year on 14 November 2022 as we fact checked President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s budget speech for 2023.

The team fact checked a total of seven statements from the Budget Speech. Of these, four statements were graded True, and three Partly True. See below for statements fact checked along with their narrative, verdicts, and relevant sources.

Number 1

Fact check: Central govt. spending on defence and highways has been significantly higher relative to spending on health and education. Therefore, low spending on health and education reflects a policy of lower relative priority and cannot be only attributable to low revenue (see Exhibit below).

Number 2

Fact check: Sri Lanka’s gross official reserves were reported as $3.1bn at the end of 2021 and $1.7bn at the end Oct 2022. However, the reporting includes reclassified pre-existing Chinese Yuan swap of $1.4bn (¥10bn), which doesn’t fit the international definition of reserves.

Source: CBSL Annual Reports

Number 3

Fact check: In 2021, the net loss of the 52 key SOEs was LKR 86 bn. In 2019 and 2020, these SOEs had a net profit of LKR 4 bn and 34 bn respectively. In the first four months of 2022, they had a net loss of LKR 859 bn (see Exhibit below).

Number 4

Fact check: According to the CBSL, Sri Lanka’s revenue as a % of GDP for 2021 is 8.7%, not 8.3%. However, among 190 countries, Sri Lanka has the 7th lowest revenue to GDP for 2021 according to the IMF (see Exhibit below).

Number 5

Fact check: Government salaries and wages have been a large proportion of the total revenue and grants: 57.8% in 2021 and projected to be 47.5% in 2022.

Source: Ministry of Finance Annual Report

Number 6

Fact check: The latest available data (2019) shows that the post-harvest loss in fruits and vegetables is ranging from 30 – 35%, where unsuitable packaging during transportation is the highest contributor.

Source: National Institute of Post-Harvest Management Annual Report of 2019

Number 7

Fact check: The cited statistics are from 2020 (the latest available from the Prisons Department); where the total capacity of the prisons was 13,241, while the daily average population of convicted and unconvicted individuals was 25,991 (see Exhibit below).

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