Sri Lanka revamps top management of state commerce outfits

EconomyNext – Sri Lanka’s new government has revamped top management of key state-owned commercial organisations with several leaders having private sector and international experience as part of efforts to eradicate corruption and inefficiency.
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Top batik designer and exporter Buddhi Keerthisena returns to lead the island’s crafts sector by being appointed as Chairman, National Crafts Council (NCC) while glass exporter Mahinda Jinasena was appointed Chairman, Industrial Development Board (IDB).

United Nations advisor Himali Jinadasa was appointed Director General of the National Enterprise Development Authority (NEDA), gem industry expert Hasitha Tillekeratne as Chairman, Laksala, and M.M. Ameen re-appointed as Chairman, Mantai Salt Ltd (MSL).

Senior university lecturer M.S. Anees was named as Chairman, Sri Lanka Standards Institute (SLSI) and nutritionist R. M. K. Ratnayake as Chairman, Co-operative Wholesale Establishment (CWE).

A statement said the appointments were made by Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen in what it called a first round of replacing departmental heads.

Bathiudeen said the appointments were made on merit to implement the government’s pledge of good governance.

“From now onwards we cannot afford news on irregularities and misappropriations in these important institutions. I expect weekly performance reports from you. We also need to go for higher levels of value addition on our exports."

Ratnayake is a nutritionist who earned a PhD from London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and a former Commerce Secretary who had previously headed the CWE, the main government body importing and supplying essential consumer items and seen as influencing the cost of living.

Keerthisena has been a long-serving Chairman of National Crafts Council and a Board Member who now aims at a National Policy for Craftsmen and better returns for craftsmen through outlets like Laksala and the National Design Centre.

“NCC is a service oriented organisation and gets funding from the treasury. I am keen to start our own sales outlets and generate own funds," he said.

"This will generate a very healthy competition between NCC and Laksala which can also lead to collaboration."

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The new Industrial Development Board Chairman Mahinda Jinasena is a well-known glass exporter and is Chairman & MD of Asoka Glass & Mirror Co. Who was trained by India’s TATA as an automobile engineer.

Himali Jinadasa, Advisor to Ministry of Industry and Commerce and Country Focal Point of UNESCO, has experience in the UN system, serving in East Timor, who wants to support Sri Lanka’s entrepreneurs, including women.

Laksala is Sri Lanka’s state-owned gift, souvenir and handicraft chain with 13 stores island-wide. Newly appointed Laksala Chairman Hasitha Tillekeratne previously ran Sri Lanka’s National Gem and Jewellery Authority as its Chairman.

He was founder Chairman of Lanka Gemmological Laboratory and was also a member of GSMB Technical Services under Geological Survey and Mines Bureau.

Ameen, who has been re-appointed as the Chairman of Mantai Salt, said Mantai Salt returned to profits in the last quarter. The Mannar saltern supplies 2.6 percent of total salt production of Sri Lanka which he wants to double.

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