Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka)
SOES - A FINANCIAL TRAGEDY
The headlines of Daily Mirror’s sister paper last Sunday revealed the whopping losses running into several billions of rupees from only 20 top SOES, was indeed mind-boggling news, to say the least.
Worse is the fact that if 20 SOES could make losses in billions over a year, it is no doubt the cumulative figure when all other loss-making ones put together - numbering over 400 - could easily be considered an out-and-out financial tragedy that has continued unabated for the last so many years. No wonder the country went bankrupt altogether! Put shortly, it is a clear indication as to how precious public funds are allowed to go down the drain by short-sighted and power-hungry political leaders and politicians who have ruined our country instead of ruling! That said, it is public knowledge that the majority of SOES - if not all - are happy hunting grounds for all ministers in power not only to park their close relations and party loyalists at the top but also to dump their henchmen and bootlickers as employees, making most state enterprises overstaffed too! It is a vicious circle that takes place with every regime change and as such most SOES are very unfortunately run by square pegs in round holes, so to say, even at the board level resulting in total mismanagement, rife with corruption and wasteful expenditure.
A classic case in point is how in 2008, a profitably run Srilankan Airlines by Emirates was revengefully taken off their very sound and successful deal by the then president who appointed his brother-in-law, a tea planter, to take care of our planes, resulting in the airline accumulating huge debts instead of profits! We continue to pay for their sins! In this background, with a mammoth debt burden resulting in the present economic crisis as never before, it is the sine qua non that these financially haemorrhaging SOES are restructured at the earliest possible and save billions of taxpayers’ money wasted on them.
However, President Wickremesinghe would be facing a daunting task in this regard, as already the restructuring process, especially of the profitable SOES are a hot topic debated within and outside parliament.in the meantime, it is in the grapevine that many hawkish politicians are eagerly awaiting to strike deals in this regard to line their pockets like in past privatizations thus, benefitting themselves even from the present economic crisis!