The recent trend of fundamental rights court cases which reversed contractual agreements that were entered into and implemented several years ago is an alarming development which will have a serious adverse impact on the investment climate of the country, according to former Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (CCC) Chairman Jayampathi Bandaranayake. At the CCC’s 170th AGM this week, the outgoing Chairman Mr. Bandaranayake said it will cause Sri Lankan government undertakings to be seen as questionable despite having been ratified by the Cabinet of Ministers.
CCC Officials and the chief guest at the head table.
Mr. Bandaranayake added that these complex transactions being brought under fundamental rights jurisdiction circumvented the necessary scrutiny that should take place through normal and traditional court procedure and practice. In the process, provisions contained in the law which mandates specified time bars for such action were also over-ridden. “We appeal to the principal organs of the state namely the executive, legislature and judiciary to work in greater harmony to see how detrimental practices such as these are corrected in the interests of the future of the country. We hope that these court judgments which surprisingly came about in the last year or so will stand the tests of scrutiny of legal reviews, taking into consideration that we should not jeopardize the investment climate of the country.”
Mr. Bandaranayake also said it is an opportune time for a joint public/private sector Think-Tank to be established in addressing ways and means of dealing with complex issues in the country’s interest. He added that a policy issue that needs to be addressed is the role of the government in the running of industry and businesses which has been a dismal failure over the years.
“The transportation system, the plantation and port services are prime examples of nationalized state enterprises which had to be reversed fully or partially, simply because the state could not continue to subsidize the losses as state ventures,” Mr. Bandaranayake said. “The plantation is a case in point where timely reversal of policy of state management enabled the RPC (private companies) management to salvage this industry from the brink of disaster to convert the industry back into a revenue generator and export earner for the government.” He added that if ownership is a point of concern, the government should look at retaining ownership but transferring management as they have done in the case of plantations.
Newly-appointed Chairman Anura Ekanayake who was the Vice Chairman of the CCC said the government should facilitate the creation of wealth by creating an enabling environment via physical, social and institutional infrastructure, law and order and above all peace. “We have experienced the disastrous consequences of governments trying to do what only the private sector can do in owning and managing productive assets to create wealth in Sri Lanka and all over the world. We should avert such mistakes by all means,” Dr. Ekanayake said.