Ashok Abeysinghe

Minister Abeysinghe claims a healthy increase in health budgets


In 2010, LKR 53.1 billion was allocated for free healthcare; in 2015, we allocated LKR 139.5 billion. In 2016, [it was] LKR 174 billion. In 2019, an amount of LKR 194.5 billion were allocated.

Dinamina | August 22, 2019



Fact Check

In the above statement, State Minister of Transport & Civil Aviation provides statistics to claim that there has been a large increase in the present government’s budget commitment to free healthcare, and that it is a significant proportion of state revenue.

The minister is correct in his numbers for the amounts allocated in the Ministry of Health (MoH) budget in the years he references (see Exhibit 1). The 10% of revenue that the minister cites ambiguously as ‘health expenditure’ is more than what is expended by MoH alone (8.6% in 2018) but less than what the Central Bank calculates as overall national health expenditure (including by provincial councils), which is 11.3% of revenue in 2018.

Additionally, FactCheck subjected the claim to a more rigorous evaluation against (i) actual expenditure instead of the budget allocation that the minister cites; (ii) expenditure for the MoH only instead of national expenditure on health; and (iii) the real (inflation-adjusted) increase in expenditure instead of the nominal increase he cites.

(i) Allocated expenditure vs. actual expenditure: In 2015, 2016 and 2018 the actual expenditure was lower by 7.4%, 21.5%, and 6.4%, than the MoH budget allocation which the Minister cites; whereas in 2010 the actual expenditure was marginally higher.

(ii) MoH expenditure vs. national health expenditure: The figures the minister cites includes only the expenditure that is allocated/spent by the MoH. However, the MoH is not the only government entity that provides healthcare services. A more representative statistic is the functional classification of health expenditure published by the Central Bank. This statistic covers expenditure on healthcare services by all government institutions, and includes expenditure from the provincial budget, which does not come under the MoH budget. For the years the minister references (excluding 2019 where data is not available), the national expenditure on health is between 30-36% higher than MoH expenditure.

(ii) Nominal increase vs. real increase: The real (inflation-adjusted) increase in actual 2018 expenditure is two times the expenditure in 2010.

Even after subjecting the claim to this evaluation, it is noted that the actual expenditure on health, not just allocation, and not just by the MoH, doubled in real terms from 2010 to 2018. This supports the overall thrust of the minister’s claim.

Therefore, we classify the minister’s statement as TRUE.

*FactCheck’s verdict is based on the most recent information that is publicly accessible. As with every fact check, if new information becomes available, FactCheck will revisit the assessment.

Exhibit 1: Government health-related expenditure (referenced years)