ECONOMYNEXT – Lanka Phosphate Company Ltd, a state owned enterprise which makes chemical fertilizer from a phosphate deposit in Sri Lanka’s Eppawala region has been shifted to the Ministry of Agriculture.
The Ministry of Industries comes under Minister Wimal Weerawansa, who represents a constituent party of the ruling alliance led by Sri Lanka Podujana Party.
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has shifted the SOE to the agriculture ministry with effect from June 17.
The change comes amid reports that there was friction between the Secretary to the Ministry of Industries and the Minister.
Sri Lanka no longer has permanent secretaries especially after an independent civil service commission was abolished in 1971 and direct presidential appointments began with a 1978 constitution, which is blamed for the breakdown of the public service and undermining of rule of law.
Sri Lanka has banned the use of chemical fertilizer after around 15 years of state subsidies started as a vote-buying gimmick had led to overuse amid allegations that chemicals were also contributing to kidney disease in some agricultural areas.
Lanka Phosphate produced some quantities of rock phosphate fertilizer from a deposit in Eppawala.
The deposit had not been allowed to be used for the manufacture of super phosphate fertilizer in the past by any private developer. Such plants however require large capital investments.
Attempts to develop soluble phosphate with multi-nationals such as Freeport McMoran with royalty payments have been strongly opposed by domestic environmental and other lobbies. (Colombo/June20/2021)