President cracks down on officials for ignoring his instructions

Gotabaya Rajapaksa - President of Sri Lanka

In a circular issued this week, the Presidential Secretariat has called for explanations from officials found responsible for disregarding instructions set out in two circulars issued last year. The circulars require Government institutions to implement all ICT and digital solutions under the overall management and supervision of the Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA) of Sri Lanka.

“As non-compliance actions by several State Banks, enterprises and entities to these two Circulars have [sic] been observed, His Excellency has directed that all such actions initiated in this regard be stopped immediately and call [sic] for explanations from those officials who are responsible for disregarding the above circular instructions,” said the new notice issued this week under the signature of Presidential Secretary P.B. Jayasundera.

The President has also directed the ICTA Chairman to undertake an immediate assessment of the extent to which such agencies–particularly State banks, large State enterprises and Government agencies, such as the Department of Inland Revenue, Sri Lanka Customs and the Department of Motor Traffic–have complied with circular instructions issued on January 13 last year. The Chairman is required to report back to the Presidential Secretariat with the results of his review.

Additionally, General Managers, Managing Directors, Chief Executive Officers, Heads of Department and Project Directors have been asked to give the President’s Office information about ongoing IT-based computer technology solutions and procurement of computer and digital systems; planned procurement arrangements during 2021-2023; budget and financial provisions for such expenditure in the corporate plan; and the decision-making process regarding such procurements including planning designs, tender committees, awards and contract management enforcement.

One of the circulars issued in January last year decries that many Government agencies were implementing information technology-based solutions “in isolation and in a compartmentalized culture of service delivery”.

“Furthermore, despite such initiatives, outcomes have not been efficient, cost-effective and public-centric,” it states. “Instead, due to the demand for extra employees, building and logistic facilities, service delivery cost has risen. It has also led to wasteful public expenditure programmes in the national budget.

“This compartmentalized strategy has also tapped foreign funding from different sources, engaged consultants and project management teams, and created wasteful expenditure on non-compatible systems and equipment,” it continues.

The President, through the circular, directed all ICT and digital solutions related to citizen service delivery to be implemented under the overall management and supervision of ICTA. Among the objectives was to ensure optimal use of national-level ICT infrastructure (Lanka Government Cloud, Lanka Government Network, Payment Gateway, SMS Gateway, etc) as defined by ICTA.

It was also aimed at ensuring compliance with digital law requirements such as the Electronic Transactions Act and data protection legislation.

A second circular issued on the same date pertaining to appointments of Boards of Directors of Public bodies including State-owned banks, insurance companies and enterprises also made reference to the ICT/digital solutions circular, reiterating that all IT-related programmes were required to be managed under the purview of ICTA.

(Source: The Sunday Times)