From left: Finance Ministry Secretary Dr. R.H.S. Samaratunga, Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera and Mahaweli Development and Environment State Minister Ajith Mannapperuma
Pic by Pradeep Pathirana
By Nishel Fernando
Eight state-owned enterprises (SOEs) entered into Statements of Corporate Intent (SCI) with the Finance Ministry in a bid to strengthening their governance, accountability and transparency, under clearly defined medium-term performance-driven targets during the next three-year period.
Accordingly, Finance Ministry Secretary Dr. R.H.S. Samaratunga yesterday signed eight SCIs with line ministry officials and heads of eight SOEs, at the Finance Ministry premises. Two more SOEs are also scheduled to sign SCIs shortly.
The eight SOEs signed yesterday were: Central Engineering Consultancy Bureau, State Timber Corporation, Geological Survey and Mines Bureau, State Pharmaceutical Corporation, National Livestock Development Board, Milk Industries of Lanka Company Ltd (MILCO), Lanka Sathosa Ltd and Sri Lanka State Plantation Corporation.
Speaking at the occasion, Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera highlighted that the government has been faced with increasing pressure from the public over continuous funding of loss-making SOEs by utilising public funds at the Treasury.
He stressed that there should be a broader debate on the way forward for SOEs, as certain SOEs such as SriLankan Airlines has become a significant financial burden to the government by absorbing large sums of taxpayers’ funds.
Dr. Samaratunga said that the Public Enterprises Department of the Finance Ministry plans to develop these eight SOEs as role models for increasing productivity in the SOE sector.
“Further, we are expecting to extend this move for all other state-owned businesses (SOBs) on the success of the implementation of this programme on a phase-by-phase basis,” he added.
The Finance Ministry expects these eight SOEs will enhance their performances while strengthening governance, assisting national development and with better return on investment to the country.
Improving quality of service delivery, exposure to competitiveness, ensuring effective use of human resources, encouraging sustainable and private sector financing, focusing on impact investment are among the goals these SOEs are to be achieved during the three-year period.
Dr. Samaratunga stressed that these SOEs have been provided with clearly defined medium-term challengeable and performance-driven targets to be achieved within the period.
In the first round of the SCI programme, the Finance Ministry entered into SCIs with five largest and key SOEs—Ceylon Petroleum Corporation, Ceylon Electricity Board, National Water Supply and Drainage Board, Airport & Aviation Services (Sri Lanka) Limited and the SLPA in 2017.
According to the Finance Ministry, there are 427 SOEs and 55 of them have been identified as strategically important.