Mind your Business
Agree or grieve
There is a lot of anxiety among the parties concerned after word got around
that certain privatisation agreements would be reviewed.
So, the management of some of these companies have been working overtime
on the political grapevine, trying to find out what all this would entail.
And they have been told that they could still save their deals by agreeing
to some of the drastic changes that will be proposed.
Pole-axe after poll?
What will the Black Box hold, now that it has been announced that the Budget
will be closer to the Ides of March?
It will be a mixed bag, we hear. There will be certain significant concessions,
especially for the lower income groups but no bonanzas will be offered
to all and sundry, they say. And that is why the local government polls
will be held before- and not after- the big day.
The 'mall' concept is still relatively new to this country with only a
few local retailers trying it out and that too only in the major cities.
Now, an international retailer wants to try its hand here, especially
after the greens took over because they feel the new regime is more investor
But these complexes will be away from the city and in the suburbs, to
avoid the cost of exorbitant land prices in the capital.
Women smart; men smarter!
Women rarely invest in the stockmarket, preferring to put their money in
banks and financial firms, a household survey by the Securities and Exchange
Commission (SEC) shows.
This applied to both wage earners and those with savings. The SEC said
only a small percentage of shares are regularly traded by women at the
Colombo Stock Exchange.
The SEC said that it plans to conduct awareness seminars for women in
Colombo and selected towns.
The SEC said it was working closely with housewives' associations, professional
working-women's groups and similar organisations to promote share investments.
'Our reforms, not IMF's'–Moragoda
Sri Lanka's new economic reforms package would be decided by the new government
and not at the behest of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) or other
Milinda Moragoda, Minister of Economic Reforms, Science and Technology,
said the government wanted to reverse the traditional process where policies
are normally donor driven.
"We want to reverse this process by drafting the reforms and telling
donors - here is the plan, give us your money - instead of donors telling
us what we should do," he said in an interview. (See page 2 for text of
Moragoda said the reforms package was under preparation, coordinated
by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, and expected to be ready along
with the presentation of the budget on March 6. He did not give details
but said it would include public sector restructuring, financial sector
reforms and a simplified tax system.
The new package would also represent a second generation of reforms,
a type of 1977 situation. "The 1977 momentum has begun to die down. If
we are to focus on a growth-oriented economy, we need another 1977-set
of dramatic reforms aimed at accelerating growth," he said, adding that
the government will not go by the "numbers" game like setting targets for
trimming the budget deficit, etc.
The government would discuss with donors their contributions after preparing
the economic framework. "We are also interested in negotiating a poverty
reduction and growth facility with the IMF," the minister said.
Authoritative government sources said last week that an IMF mission
is due in Sri Lanka sometime this month to discuss various issues including
the new government's economic strategy and the Standby Credit facility
that has been suspended since September. The government has said it would
like to re-negotiate the facility.
Moragoda reiterated that the government wants the economic agenda to
be its (government's) own, not that of donor agencies. "Politically that
is not easy. These are tough decisions and a large part of it would depend
on our ability to explain to the public that if these reforms are not undertaken,
Sri Lanka has no economic future."
Meanwhile representatives of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce met officials
of the Finance Ministry's National Planning Department on Friday to discuss
chamber proposals on economic and public sector reforms.
Chamber Secretary General, Chula Jayasuriya said they discussed the
proposals together with the government's 100-day programme to assess whether
chamber suggestions are in the plan of action or whether they could be
"The department will get back to us after studying our suggestions,"