Multi-skilled workers soon in state sector -Business Times Sunday
Posted on March 6th, 2017

Dr Sarah Obeysekera


Concerned about public discontent over the delivery of services, the Government is undertaking an immediate review of public sector staff in government offices.


I have a story to tell about this,

It is also concerning the attitude and the performance of Private and Public Sector Employees and well as employers .I have bought a house few years back in an area where many residencies have been converted to Business Premises in a quite after area .As the construction of the house may have been done before even Urban Development Act was not in existence , I did neither  get an Approved Drawings by UDA nor COC ( certificate of conformity) to show whether it is for Residential Purpose or Business Premises .As I did not want to live in that house and travelled abroad I rented the house to a company and they are occupying the premises many years and very high commercial rates for ( Colombo Municipal Council )  CMC is being paid which is over 10 times for business premises .Then I get a letter from UDA who has claims that I should convert the use of the premises from residential from Residential Business and produce the CMC  approved Drawings and COC .Otherwise I was to pay over 500,000 Rs as a penalty .

I explained to them that I am paying the rates applicable for Business use of over 250,000 rest per annum .UDA did not want to accept my explanation and threatened to go to courts and shut and get a court order and shut the place down (it is not a eating place but an office of a foreign company doing much work in Sri Lanka.

I inquired from and they have no copies of CMC or approved drawings or COC and I have to spend another one minion to an architect to re draw the plans and submit the CMC and go through the process!

Then I get a Red Letter indicating the UDA they by 6th March they will shut the place down! I sent a letter to Legal D-vision of UDA and ask for a form to apply again and did not get a reply

I went back to UDA on Friday and approached the Enforcement division   (People call it GESTAPO- for readers who do not know that it is like the State funded enforcement division under Nazis? ) and offered to pay the penalty as it will be stressful situation form ,Head of the division who I know as I was running a state corporation many years back at 9 a, sharp and the head was not in the office and a meeting of various other officers were having a meeting I knocked and opened the door and inquired where about of the Head and they initially were not happy that I barged in and told me that she is in a meeting at 9 am

I was standing there asking then who can I approach to solve my problem .They looked through a glass installed in the office of the head (May be to enforce the discipline as Head can see who is working or not?) and told me to find one person at the far end of the office –just a clerk ) I showed my letter of demand by UDA and she said that I have to go to legal division of UDA which is about ¼ of mile within UDA building in another floor ) Only solace I had was when I went into the office the legal officer who wrote me the letter of demand to whom I sent my request asking for  forms because I was away from the country ) .He asked me to wait outside and shouted at someone to bring the file and a young lady came to me asked for details to locate the file ) After about 10 minutes file was brought in. ( in this country claiming that we are so developed and computerised files should have been used )

Again to my luck I was recognised by the officer and spoke to politely ( to my surprise to hear from a Gestapo” styled Authority asked me to write a letter that I agree to pay the penalty  .I had again  go back to Enforcement  Division and wait until the mighty pion brings the file. I went back again walking `1/4 of a mile and found that it has not reached the subject clerk in the Enforcement Division and asked me to go back to Legal division

Went back to legal division and asked the young lady about the where about of the files and she asked me to pay Rs 2100 rupees as Legal fee (for sending me a letter??) And unless I pay that she will not send the file back to Enforcement Division and wrote a manual invoice .I had to walk another ¼ mile to cashier and pay the fee to cove the paperwork!

I produced the receipt and she asked the mighty Betel chewing Pion to hand carry the file to the enforcement division.

Now it is 10 30 and Tea time .Pion was making tea and told the lady that he has to go around the office and pour tea to each and every officer) may be around 15) in the division declined to take the files as the tea will get cold and he has to finish that task (I mean multi task!)

I waited for another 15 minutes and went back with him to the destination, There was a clerk (with lot of lipstick and hairdo) .and asked her to give the file to the subject clerk and she was rude and told me to wait in the lobby until I am called

There were many in the OPD” of the Enforcement Division where many were waiting until that meeting was over to meet relevant officers

I had to wait for 15 minutes and the subject clerk called my perused the file and slammed a 1.3 million Rs penalty for using the premises as an office

I was quite taken back and asked for redress but I was politely refused .I had to go back to same cashier with an Invoice of 500.000 Rs and spent some time because cashier was having a delayed tea!

I paid it and rushed back to Enforcement Division to hand over the payment receipt to subject clerk and rushed to CMC to inquire how to change the use” from residential to Commercial.

I knew it will be the Lunch time and headless CMC will keep me another half a day ,hence I opted to go back to office losing ½ of the day trying to figure out how  the  concept of  multi-tasking  can be implemented when the single task entrusted to people cannot be dome effectively ? 

Then I heard about the other news about UDA trying to take back approval powers given to Local Authorities will be taken back to Centralise rather than Decentralising .I thought how can we develop with such attitudes?

Minister of Mega polis should walk around the sprawling offices and inquire how efficient people are before trying to Centralise

Recently HE the President imposed a relaxing rule that officers do not have to wear a tie and another rule that ladies should not were sleeveless saree jackets .Is it what we need at this hour ?

We need a Private Sector attitude imposed in State Sector by placing heads who can implement a program to improve Single Task Efficiency 

Now I have another daunting task with CMC during this week

Good luck to me

Dr Sarah Obeysekera

7 Responses to “Multi-skilled workers soon in state sector -Business Times Sunday”

  1. Ananda-USA Says:

    Now on TOP of this BUREAUCRACY

    ADD a Provincial Council Bureaucracy employING still more “headless” clerks charging still more fees to file forms, and it will NOT BE POSSIBLE TO GET ANYTHING DONE by mortal common citizens!

    Excessive government us the BANE of Sri Lanka. I myself have encountered those teams of clerks managing reams of dusty bound paper files. It is an impenetrable jungle!

    As Sarath says, you would expect these things would be computerised by now ….. as in private businesses …. and managed by far fewer employees empowered to do interesting jobs!

  2. aloy Says:

    As far as the government service is concerned putting everything of importance on paper is the safest thing. In a country where all sorts of computer jilmarts take place, the files in computer can easily get lost or the data may become unreadable due to software updates or corruption.

    There was the case of my EPF for a period of 8 years service in the State Engineering Corporation stolen by some crooks in the accounts department after I left for overseas employment. When I tried to claim it after my retirement age the Central Bank checked their books and said your EPF money was paid by check number so and so and was cashed at a certain bank close to the SEC head office. Although the amount would have grown close to a couple of millions I decided not to follow it up as the process would have been difficult. However this incident shows that keeping every thing of importance on paper. This must be the reason the immigration department wants the payment for dual citizenship applications for persons resident overseas made only in cash at their counters, no bank transfers or checks allowed and the depositors identities are also checked and recorded in the receipts.

  3. Ananda-USA Says:


    Paper copies can also get lost, burned in fires and other physical disaster, or be simply unlocatable within billions of stored government records.

    The best way is to keep multiple copies of the electronics records on different storage media in different locations, and track each version and change as a related document, with an an audit trail on each transaction.

    Many government departments prefer the paper copy route, because the information can be hidden and action delayed on the excuse of it taking lots of man hours to search for a document, or to combine the information to produce the input to a top-level management decision.

    As you wrll know, with today’s electronic databases everything is available almost instantly, and for instantly msnuipulating thr data into any desired form for making faster better decisions.

    The decision should be not whether to computerize and store as digital data, but how that database is structured with strong safeguards against hacking, accidental deletion, and intentionsl unauthorized diddling the of the data. Unauthirized activity csn be prevented with an an embedded traceable audit trail, with even the analog signatures stored digitally.

    With such a system with an audit trail, what happened to your EPF retirement funds would be almost impossible. The final theft would be recorded with info on who did it and under whose authority, and the entire history of your contributions upto that instant of theft would be available at the touch of a key!

    BTW, I am extremely sorry to hear of what happened to your EPF funds.

  4. aloy Says:


    Yes computerizing with multiple layers of records should be the ultimate solution. In fact all dealings in the Central Bank should be recorded in a database and any information should be made available at the touch of a button or there should be people to filter the info with manipulation of primary keys; only then the RTI could be properly implemented. And also these information can be made use of for budgeting purposes. I am sure we have the capable people. If they can empower London Stock Exchange and many other european stock exchanges with the fastest systems in the world for them to develop a system for CB should be very simple. But they do not want the clever people involved as they cannot manipulate them. They put the most useless person for the most important ministries.

    BTW Ananda, why not we start an organisation to provide training particularly to engineers on the use of state of the art software in their fields of work, instead of engaging in politics in the country. This can be done with minimum costs to the students on non profit basis. I am prepared provide a place and some facilities initially in central Colombo (town hall area) free of charge. I can contact some professional with expertise to help on part time basis. It is possible for me to make a start on this in a couple of months time.

  5. Dilrook Says:

    Computerisation is the only solution. It can save billions in public sector salaries, increase productivity, monitor what is happening and use that information to increase efficiency and cut down corruption.

    Government sector software platforms are very advanced and records cannot be manipulated without large scale collusion. Even then the audit trail remains.

    Gotabhaya did a commendable job in computerising most land registry details which was an immense task.

    Centralisation of LG bodies’ administration tasks with a number of district branches is the way to go. Even road maintenance, garbage collection, etc. should be centralised with branched service provision. Decentralisation is a waste. The excessive governance structure for a small island like Sri Lanka is insane. Very large scale waste and corruption in all Municipal Councils is very well known.

    We have submitted a comprehensive public sector redesign plan to the former secretary and his response has been encouraging. Only he seems to understand the need to increase efficiency in this space for better governance. Sri Lanka Customs and Inland Revenue (the most corrupt places) must be computerised and monitored in all their activities.

  6. Ananda-USA Says:


    Regarding your proposal, if it is to provide TRAINING, but not to offer services to large companies or government, it may be viable and of low liability.

    I am, however, neck deep in charitable, business and professional commitments, and am unsure how I can fit in.

    So, let me think about it. Maybe we could meet in Sri Lanka and discuss it.

    Thank you.

  7. aloy Says:

    Lets discuss about it in a month or so, and let me have the number once again.

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