In a recent revelation from the latest Audit General Report, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Sri Lanka is under intense scrutiny for its alleged negligence in fulfilling its mission to promote and safeguard the country’s national aspirations in line with the foreign policy. The report sheds light on significant audit observations that highlight critical shortcomings, financial mismanagement, and a failure to address the well-being of Sri Lankans abroad.
According to the audit, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs oversees a vast network of sixty (60) Sri Lankan missions and embassies worldwide, with the responsibility of maintaining friendly relations with all countries. Despite a parliamentary allocation of Rs. 17,860 million in 2022 to carry out these crucial tasks, only Rs. 14,798 million had been utilized by the end of the year.
One of the glaring issues brought to light by the report is the non-payment of compensation to Sri Lankans who have suffered abroad. Shockingly, cases date back over a decade, with instances of an employee in Saudi Arabia becoming fully disabled in 2012 without receiving compensation. Moreover, a female employee in Kuwait had her internal organs removed ten years after her death, yet the embassy failed to investigate the possibility of compensation. Another case involves a domestic worker in Kuwait who died in 2011 under suspicious circumstances, with allegations of organ removal, but the embassy has failed to obtain necessary reports even after 11 years.
Another pressing concern is the non-settlement of imprests, with an unsettled advance balance of Rs. 450.49 million. The report reveals that housing security deposits, totaling Rs. 56 million, were not utilized for foreign mission staff. Additionally, Rs. 319 million, meant for housing security deposits, remains outstanding, with Rs. 63 million in 108 deposits for houses where mission staff have not settled.
The report also highlights assets mismanagement, with the Sri Lankan Ambassador’s residence in Sweden and the High Commission’s residence in Kenya being out of use since 2012 and 2014, respectively. During the year under review, Rs. 55.58 million was spent on office rent due to these buildings being under renovation and not in use.
These revelations raise serious questions about the Ministry’s ability to fulfill its crucial role in promoting Sri Lanka’s national aspirations and maintaining a responsible position in the international community. The public demands accountability and immediate corrective action to address these lapses in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ oversight.