23rd May, 2004 Volume 10, Issue 45
By Mandana Ismail Abeywickrema
a fierce battle brewing between Finance Minister Dr. Sarath Amunugama and
Treasury Secretary P. B. Jayasundara over the issue of privatisation with
both stating diametrically opposite views on the matter, the UPFA cabinet
remains still undecided whether or not to continue with the proposed
privatisation of several state institutions.
Amunugama was reported to have openly said that the government would
privatise the remaining shares of Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT) and SriLankan
Airlines as planned before.
an interview with an international business news agency - Bloomberg - Dr.
Amunugama reportedly said: "Sri Lanka may sell stakes in Sri Lanka
Telecom Ltd., SriLankan Airlines and other companies to pare a budget
deficit that threatens economic growth."
report further states that the pre-election pledges to hire more civil
servants and spend more on agriculture may make that task difficult, as
could the Marxist-oriented Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) an alliance
partner, which opposes the sale of assets.
to Cabinet Spokesman and Media Minister Reginald Cooray, cabinet has not
made a specific decision with regard to the privatisation of SLT and
queried, Cooray maintained that the United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA)
manifesto sets out the guidelines under which they would function with
regard to privatisation and other economic reforms.
to The Sunday Leader, Treasury Secretary, Dr. P. B. Jayasundara said that
the UPFA government would go ahead with the privatisation of institutions
set in motion by the previous UNF regime.
Jayasundara added that according to his knowledge the government has not
reached a decision with regard to both ventures. He also added that the
government would not be in a position to privatise SriLankan Airlines as
it would be illegal to do so.
UPFA manifesto under the heading of 'new economic order for a strong
national economy' states: "Stop privatisation of national resources
and public institutions and make them to play an important role in the
regeneration of the national economy."
However Finance minister maintained that the government is not for privatisation but committed to improving the management of state ventures especially those needing strategic alliance with the private sector. He said SriLankan airlines and telecom are such examples.
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