Mind your Business
No ills with bills
A high flier with "tough" contacts has got a top government job dealing
with communications. Now insiders say the bills will certainly be paid
on time. Who would want to be at receiving end of "minders" of the big
boss who would go beyond twisting the arms of an errant subscriber?
The greens may be better managers of the economy but the young turks
in the ranks are raising eyebrows, and that is not merely because they
have a wider vision.
Some of them in insurance brokering are said to be soliciting business
from institutions under their purview which others say is unethical, at
least. But old timers nod knowingly. Like father, like son, they say though
it is very unlike father-in-law! What would the latter say, if he knew
about all this, we wonder?
The budget is due and some pleasant surprises are on the cards - as
well as a few unpleasant ones.
The levy that secures the nation will most probably be done away with
- the benefits of which hopefully will be passed on to the consumer. But
on the other said, there will be no big bonanzas or concessions and even
a wage hike will be very nominal, we hear.
Airport services to be privatised
By Rohan Gunasekera
The liberalisation of civil aviation contemplated by the government will
lead to far-reaching reforms under which private operators will be allowed
to provide a gamut of services including ground handling and catering as
well as air traffic control.
A new act, called the Civil Aviation Act of Sri Lanka, will shortly
be introduced in parliament to replace existing laws that had not been
updated for decades. "Aviation is a marketable economic activity," said
Lal Liyanaarachchi, Director General Civil Aviation. "It is a catalyst
industry with a great revenue generating capacity."
Under the reforms that are to be implemented, the Department of Civil
Aviation will be replaced by a Civil Aviation Authority which would regulate
the industry and ensure that international safety and operational standards
are maintained. The new Civil Aviation Act has provision for the Minister
of Civil Aviation to appoint "service providers" for a wide range of activities,
he said. These include catering and ground handling which are currently
a monopoly of the national carrier, SriLankan Airlines, in which Emirates
has management control and a 40 percent equity stake.
Under the new Act, the director general of civil aviation can allow
other airline operators to do their own ground handling if they wish to
do so, Liyanaarachchi said in an interview. However, operators who do not
wish to do their own ground handling, which is a specialist service involving
big investments, can go to the designated sole ground handling agent which
is SriLankan Airlines. Likewise, catering too will be opened up to competition.
Airports and Aviation Services Ltd., a government-owned business undertaking
that operates the Katunayake international airport, will be called a service
provider under the new Act and be licensed and regulated by the Civil Aviation
Authority. The new Act will facilitate the privatisation of the airport
and will also allow the private sector to provide services such as air
traffic control, passenger and cargo handling services, supply of aviation
fuel and air navigation aids and communications services, he said. The
new policy will help the authorities hire and retain the services of qualified
professionals who had hitherto been reluctant to serve in government departments,
Liyanaarachchi said that for Sri Lanka to attract more airlines to the
country it had to be more attractive "cost wise, and in terms of facilities
and quality of service".
Aviation Minister Tilak Marapana on Monday announced that the government
wanted to adopt an "open skies" policy and would review the privatisation
of the national carrier which he said had probably "created a monopolistic
situation" that hindered efforts to develop the industry.