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Thursday May 23rd, 2024

Sri Lanka to conclude most SOE sales by August; Srilankan by Sept

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka is expecting to conclude all the transactions related to divestiture of State-Owned Enterprises (SOE) by August this year under an ambitious reform process, the government-led State-Owned Enterprises Restructuring Unit (SOERU) said.

However, the divestiture of loss-making Srilankan Airlines is likely to be concluded by September, it said.

The SOERU has already called for bids for Request for Qualification (RfQ) to divest Hotel Developers Lanka Ltd, Canwill Holdings Pvt Ltd, Lanka Hospitals Corporation PLC, Sri Lanka Telecom PLC, Litro Gas, Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation Life Ltd., Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation General Ltd., and Srilankan Airlines.

Out of these, deadlines for the submission of RfQs for Hotel Developers Lanka Ltd, Canwill Holdings Pvt Ltd, Lanka Hospitals Corporation PLC, Sri Lanka Telecom PLC, Litro Gas, Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation Life Ltd., and Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation General Ltd. have now closed whilst for Srilankan Airlines it remains open until April 22, the SOERU said.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has strongly asked for SOE reforms to reduce losses in those institutions. However, Sri Lanka has yet to conclude reform in any of the select SOEs despite the island nation has declared bankruptcy two years ago. The process has been slow amid opposition from some political parties and trade unions.

“It is envisaged that all transactions other than Srilankan Airlines will be concluded by August 2024. The timeline for SriLankan airlines is likely to extend to end September 2024,” the SOERU said in a statement.

“In parallel to the divestiture process, work has been done to set up a structured, efficient and well governed process to manage the SOE sector going forward.”

“This is part of the overall reform program of the government and aims to transform SOEs in to well governed, competitive and financially disciplined entities that provide citizens with essential goods and services effectively and efficiently without being a drain on public finances.”

It said the setting up of a 100% state owned Holding Company that in turn will hold all of government shares in commercial businesses is at the heart of these reforms.

“The policy includes a sound mechanism to ensure the appointment of qualified, experienced and capable persons to the boards of both the Holding Company and SOEs.”

“Similarly, it lays down principles and policies around governance, financial discipline and disclosures which the Holding Company and all SOEs will need to adhere to. Work is currently on-going to draft a Public Commercial Businesses Act to give legal effect to these reforms.”

The SOERU also said discussions were held with leaders of the main political parties, trade unions, religious leaders and media professionals on the divestiture of the SOEs.

“If the underperforming, debt-ridden, Sri Lankan economy is to transition into a competitive, dynamic and prosperous environment, SOE reforms are non-negotiable,” it said.

“These reforms will ensure that resources are released for investment in essential but under-resourced public service obligations such as education, healthcare, energy, transportation and digitization.”

“Without these reforms public funds will continue to be wasted on poorly managed entities that, in the first place, don’t need the state’s involvement.” (Colombo/April 18/2024)

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Sri Lanka plans to expand Bingiriya export zone to 1,100 acres

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka is expanding an export processing zone in Bingiriya in Kurunegala and plans to link the area with Puttalam with roads and other infrastructure, Minister Bandula Gunawardana said.

A task force of ministerial secretaries will be appointed to carry out the tasks speedily, following a cabinet paper submitted by President Ranil Wickremesinghe said.

The Bingiriya zone already has 157 acres and another 282 acres is being developed by the Board of Investment, he said.

Steps would also be taken to acquire 666 acres.

There was no information whose lands would be acquired. (Colombo/May23/2024)

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Sri Lanka has power breakdowns amidst extreme weather

ECONOMYNEXT – The state-owned power utility, the Ceylon Electricity Board has reported over 36,900 breakdowns resulting in power interruptions to more than 300,000 consumers in the last three days due to inclement weather in the island, the power minister said.

“Additional service staff has been assigned to attend the breakdowns and the CEB management & service staff are working 24 hours to restore power to the affected consumers,” Minister of Power and Energy, Kanchana Wijesekera said on social media platform X (twitter).

Wijesekera said consumers could report power interruptions through the CEB hotline 1987, via SMS to 1987 with BD and the electricity consumer number to follow, or use the CEB Care app, or through http://cebcare.ceb.lk.

The South-East monsoon has seen floods, landslides and strong winds do damage to the utility provider’s infrastructure in the last week. (Colombo/May23?2024)

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Sri Lanka President calls for unity, sacrificing for a better tomorrow on Vesak day

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka President Ranil Wickremesinghe has recalled a sermon from the Buddha about sacrificing for a better tomorrow, and called for unity to heal and rebuild the country, as Buddhists celebrate Vesak.

Buddhists celebrate Vesak as commemorating the birth, enlightenment and passing away of the Buddha.

“At this challenging moment, we as a nation should cultivate the same great zeal for enlightenment that Buddha exemplified, inspired by his sermon, “Maththasukha parichchaga- passé che vipulan sukhan” – to sacrifice today for a better tomorrow,” President Wickremesinghe said in his Vesak day message.

“We must remember the advice of Lord Buddha, “Sabbattha Sammanaso,” to treat everyone equally and ensure we put it into practice as a country. This is the greatest offering we can present to the Buddha on this Vesak day.

“Regardless of race, religion, caste, or political affiliation, we must all unite to heal and rebuild our country. ”

The full statement is reproduced below:

The Vesak festival is a profoundly sacred day for Buddhists worldwide, commemorating the Buddha’s birth, enlightenment, and passing. Buddhists in Sri Lanka, along with their brethren around the globe, celebrate Vesak with deep devotion. They spend this period engaging in religious observances and venerating the Buddha with fervent devotion.

At this challenging moment, we as a nation should cultivate the same great zeal for enlightenment that Buddha exemplified, inspired by his sermon, “Maththasukha parichchaga- passé che vipulan sukhan” – to sacrifice today for a better tomorrow.

We must remember the advice of Lord Buddha, “Sabbattha Sammanaso,” to treat everyone equally and ensure we put it into practice as a country. This is the greatest offering we can present to the Buddha on this Vesak day. Regardless of race, religion, caste, or political affiliation, we must all unite to heal and rebuild our country. The principles of Lichchavi Raja Dharmaya will guide us in this endeavour.

Let us keep in mind that the primary aim of the Vesak festival is to foster spiritual growth and character development in a world rapidly advancing physically. I wish everyone a blessed Vesak festival.

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