‘The truth behind the selling story’ National People’s Power (NPP) Conference
14th September – Foundation Institute, Colombo
Professor Anil Jayantha, Chairperson of the Economic Policy Committee of National People’s Power
The country’s economy is woven together with that of the people’s lives. We hold this discussion at a moment when living has become so challenging. Why has the government come to a situation of selling assets? Why does the government attempt to hide the truth behind selling assets? The need for an alternative has arisen for the government to continue and hold onto its powers. It is possible to say that it is fine to do anything if there is no alternative at any given critical moment. However, the society has not lost the alternative. This crisis has solutions. An opportunistic and illegal power-hungry group of people has chosen ‘selling’ as their solution. They state that this selling is made to save the economy. There are some problems that we can see in this, like the problem of living, loss of income, increase in the price of goods, and lack of goods. Therefore, it is possible to decide that it is better to go for any solution to save people from these problems. But by this sale, the standard of living of the people will further decline.
There are a large number of groups waiting to justify this solution of selling assets. We are asked the two questions of whether selling public property is right or wrong. We don’t have to get caught up in it. We live in a society that directs us to maximize the economic system, personal life, wealth, and power. The government too helps maintain such an economy. In such a scenario, they could use State assets for both selling and nationalizing. This is what has happened throughout our history. Large-scale businesses have been started and nationalized claiming that they all are for the betterment of the people. Several specialized institutes have been established to spread the word on the importance of selling to get out of this crisis. Selendiva is one such institute. An economic advisory council has been formed to provide. They have suggested ways to earn money quickly. Instead of solving economic problems and changing people’s lives, they are rushing to find a few dollars quickly. Proposals have been brought to find 08 billion dollars in a very short time.
They are in search of assets that could be sold immediately. Those are the institutions that are making a profit and can make a powerful impact on the economy. Several proposals had come from the Economic Advisory Council regarding airports and banks. There are proposals to sell all the places in Mattala, Ratmalana, and Katunayake and earn 2.7 billion dollars. It has been planned to gain 600 million from the North Colombo harbor project. The government owns some lands in Colombo Port City. It is proposed to be sold for 04 billion under the lease system. And an amount of 08 billion is expected by selling Telecom and Sri Lanka Insurance. Some companies hold direct and indirect ownership of state-owned enterprises. Such institutions have been listed by the Colombo Stock Exchange. These can also be sold easily. This list comprises institutions such as Housing Development Finance Corporation, Lanka Hospital, M. B. S. L., People’s Leasing, People’s Insurance, H. N. B, and Seylan Bank. More than 51% of some institutions are not owned by the government. However, upon investigating the shareholders, significant control power comes under the government when direct and indirect rights are combined. And there are public funds such as E.P.F., E.T.F., and insurance that hold the public’s money. Many of the institutions mentioned above have money belonging to EPF, ETF, and insurance. Therefore, there is a possibility to persuade the immediate selling of these institutions. The danger here is that these can be sold at very low prices. Also, its benefits may go to one or two people.
A government should stand for the needs of the public. If people face any challenge, the government should always intervene in it. Other countries have several institutions for the said purpose. Countries like Thailand and Singapore have state enterprises that protect the rights of their citizens. The question of what will the NPP does once they gain power is that if the state-owned enterprise is reformed for the betterment of the public, such will be decided subject to the intention of the government and the economic policy of the government. Accordingly, some things can be restructured. Some things must be maintained with the power of the state. The intervention of the government is necessary when it comes to the energy sector, naval sector, and geopolitical location. Under the plan of the NPP, the private sector will be facilitated in doing business according to the economic goals we plan, and we also create the right environment for such.
Today the country has come to a critical moment. Hence, selling is not the solution for it. We should understand this. We should be conscious of this. We should get together. If there are people who truly love the country, there is only one platform where they can unite. These efforts can only be reversed by the broad influence created by this gathering of NNP. If not, the remaining valuable resources will be systematically sold in the future through various subterfuges. Sri Lanka is a country that can be developed within a very short period. Let us make this a developed country by managing rightly the limited resource we have. Let us work together to achieve this. Let us reveal to the people their true desire behind this sale and appoint a people-friendly government.