Ven Dhammalankara asks Govt. to reconsider
Nov 2, 2011
Acquiring a company such as the Pelawatte sugar company, which is listed the Colombo Stock Exchange, would violate the universal principle of investment democracy: VEN. ITHTHEPANE DHAMMALANKARA THERA

An eminent Buddhist monk yesterday asked the gover nment to reconsider its decision to introduce the controversial "Revival of Underperfor ming Enterprises and Unutilized Assets Bill".

Siyam Nikaya's Anunayake of the Samagri Sangha Sabha in Kotte, the Most Ven. Iththepane Dhammalankara Thera, said that the gover nment could use the proposed bill to acquire the properties of its opponents. He said this piece of legislation, which was to be presented to parliament as an urgent bill, had given rise to a fear psychosis -- especially among businessmen. "It would be a great blow to democracy and human rights if the government acquires profit making entities through this bill," he said. The Ven Thera also warned that the government would become an economic assassin if it went ahead with the bill.

He said the government had clearly stated its intention of taking over 36 companies including, the Sevanagala and Pelawatte Sugar Companies, in the bill; while provisions had also been made in it to take over any other enterprise at any time. The Ven Thera said that the employees whose livelihoods depended on the Sevanagala and Pelawatte Sugar companies were deeply disturbed by this move.

The Ven Thera fur ther explained that the stated intention of this Bill was to acquire non per forming enterprises while the Sevanagala and Pelawatte Sugar Companies which belonged to two local entrepreneurs (namely Daya Gamage, the UNP organiser for Ampara, and Harry Jayawardene) were also to be taken over. "Acquiring a company such as the Pelawatte sugar company, which is listed in the Colombo Stock Exchange, would violate the universal principle of investment democracy," he said.

However the Ven Thera expressed his confidence that this government would not use this bill to intimidate Sinhalese Buddhist businessmen. He made this point by recalling the pledge this government had made at election time that it would safeguard local enterprises. He also highlighted the fact that the proposed bill would enable the government to resell the acquired proper ty to foreign investors. This, he noted, would place all entities in an uncer tain position and have adverse effects on the economy. Therefore, he said, both local and foreign investors would fight shy of investing in new entities if the government went ahead with the bill -- and the people would ultimately have to pay the price for it. Asser ting that the bill would violate the right of a citizen to enter into a venture of his choice, the Thera pointed out that it was contrary to the teachings of the Buddha, who had delineated the duties which rulers of a nation had to per form -- such as enabling the development of entities and distributing their benefits throughout the state.

"If a government attacks a local entity it is an attack on its people because people's livelihoods often depend on these entities," the Ven Thera said.

Making a plea on behalf of the Buddhist clergy, the Ven Thera called on the government to rule the country according to the Buddha's teachings and to act wisely for the sake of the people and the nation.

Source: Daily Mirror - Sri Lanka