Govt. must defend
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.
Business Today's top 10 Companies based on their financial
performance for 2000/01 are:
Bank, Hayleys, Ceylon Tobacco, John Keells Holdings, Hatton
National Bank, Distilleries Company of Sri Lanka, National
Development Bank, Caltex Lubricants Lanka, Nestle Lanka and
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.
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."
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."
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.
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,
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.
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
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
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.