Sri Lanka to corporatize milibiz hotels, state holiday homes
ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka will put hotels set up by the military and holiday homes of state agencies in one corporate entity to target them to tourism, Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake said.
"We have armed forces setting up hotels, we had government institutions that suddenly picking up something going astray and financing them," Karunanayake told a tourism forum in Colombo.
"We want to consolidate them.
"All rest houses government owned circuit bungalows will be brought into one institution which will guided and invest in the proper manner."
Circuit bungalows are a holiday homes run by the state agencies, in a practice dating back to British colonial rule.
Karunanayake said the current administration had decided to sell-off non-strategic investments which included hotels.
The ousted Rajapaksa administration started several military related businesses which was seen as part of a dangerous strategy of militarizing society.
Sri Lanka’s military built a chain under the brand Laya hotels.
All state agencies tend to engage in so-called ‘mission creep’ when they have access to funds, but the expansion of milibis is a sign of totalitarianism that comes with an excessively powerful military, critics say.
Under the Rajapaksa regime the state started a regimentation of schools and also the regimentation of leisure, promoting exercise.
Interfering in the leisure activities of citizens have been a key feature of European fascist states.
At one Sri Lanka officials flirted with the idea of starting gymnasiums in state agencies to improve the health of workers in a dopolavoro (after work) style program seen in fascist Italy to create a healthy ‘fascist man’.
Hitler’s Germany also ran the world’s biggest travel organization in the 1930s through its Kraft durch Freude (Strength through joy) program.
Milibis is also a problem in some communist states. Even now China and Vietnam has extensive milibis operations, though attempts are being made to cut them back.
In 2007, the Communist Party of Vietnam announced major plan to trim military businesses, ordering a 30 percent cut in businesses linked to the armed forces as part of a continuing strategy of reducing the role of the military in the economy.
Vietnam is also in the process of privatizing several hundred state enterprises through a strategy called ‘equitizing’ in that country. (Colombo/Dec01/2016)