Govt. must defend privatisation
By Suren Gnanaraj
Business leaders last week called on the government to defend its privatisation programme in the face of criticism by opposition political parties. "We are disturbed by the growing noise raised by the opposition against privatisation, but we will not be discouraged," Hatton National Bank managing director Rienzie Wijetilleke said.

Top Ten
Business Today's top 10 Companies based on their financial performance for 2000/01 are:

Commercial Bank, Hayleys, Ceylon Tobacco, John Keells Holdings, Hatton National Bank, Distilleries Company of Sri Lanka, National Development Bank, Caltex Lubricants Lanka, Nestle Lanka and DFCC Bank.

In an environment where the private sector has been called to spearhead the economic growth of the country, the government must take a tough stance in defending the privatisation programme, which was part of the manifesto through which they were elected, he told the Business Today Top 10 Awards ceremony.

Commenting on financial irregularities by top companies revealed by the Sri Lanka Accounting and Auditing Standards Monitoring Board, Wijetilleke said: "Such incidents have kept us on our toes and we are fully aware of the need to maintain high standards and ensure that such things will not happen in the future."

Wijetilleke also said companies have a duty to look beyond their profits and highlighted the social responsibility of companies in providing jobs and welfare. Chief guest at the occasion, Minister of Power and Energy Karu Jayasuriya, said that since the power crisis had been resolved, the government's next aim would be to bring down the cost of electricity.

He called on the corporate sector to assist the government in solving growing issues such as productivity and human resources training and development. "The government has serious problems in providing graduates and school leavers with jobs."

Jayasuriya said that Sri Lanka has one of the lowest productivity levels in the world, which needed to be changed immediately, if the country intends to be a strong global competitor.

Jayasuriya also said the government, in an effort to improve accountability, had given the public sector time till December 31 to submit all outstanding accounts. "The CEOs will be held responsible for those public sectors that do not comply," he said.
Commercial Bank was adjudged the No.1 Company in Sri Lanka for the first time, with Hayleys coming in second and Ceylon Tobacco Company, third.

Commercial Bank chairman Amitha Gooneratne said that basic principles of good management and the continuing effort to protect all stakeholders, from shareholders to creditors, helped increase the stability of the bank, while enabling it to expand its geographical reach and business volumes.

Hayleys Deputy chairman Rajan Yatawara said that what helped the group to survive and grow through good times and bad was 'diversity and decentralisation'. This concept focuses on 'diversity' in what one does in the given core businesses, be it forward or backward integration or lateral growth, and it excludes unnecessary raids into numerous business areas.

This, he said, "attempts to identify which authorities may be delegated, to strike the right balance between 'motivating' the engine rather than losing control of the wheel." John Keel's Holdings slipped to number 4 from 1 last year, due to the poor performance of hotels and the financial services sector owing to last year's terrorist attacks and power cuts, said Jayantissa Rat-watte, senior executive of JKH.

NDB General Manager Nihal Welikala stressed the importance of capital and noted that while the flow of overseas aid will ebb and flow, there is a need for sustainable development to aim for self-reliance on capital. He said customer expectations are increasing both in terms of service and price, at a time when bank costs including the cost of bad debts are also rising.

Back to Top  Back to Business  

Copyright © 2001 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd. All rights reserved.