Basil at pains to explain
Nov 10, 2011

Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa took pains in Parliament yesterday to convince the House that private investors and entrepreneurs would not be victimized under the new Bill.

Speaking during the debate on the Revival of the Underperforming and Unutilized Assets Bill, Mr. Rajapaksa said that the government would instead give further facilities to such investors.

“We assure you that we will not disturb your entrepreneurial activities. We will protect your industries. We will give you more facilities,” he said. The minister delivered an off the cuff speech for more than one hour to elucidate the reasons that compelled the government to introduce this Bill for the acquisition of the properties of 37 private establishments.

He said that all these were state properties that had been privatized a long time ago after agreements had been signed to run them as economically viable institutions. However, he said, these properties lay idle today without any economic use, and, therefore, it was important for the government to intervene and put them to proper economic use. In the Free Trade Zones, he said, there were companies that were closed.

“Some of these companies have not compensated their employees. If a company remains closed inside an investment zone, it affects the business operation of others. If one trade centre is closed in a supermarket, it affects the businesses of others,” he said.

He said, “If a stall at marketplace is given for the sale of fish, it cannot be used for selling beef. That is the law. If it is meant for selling chicken, it should not be used for selling beef.”

Mr. Rajapaksa said that most of these companies had failed to honour the agreements they had signed with the government at the time of privatization.

Source: Daily Mirror - Sri Lanka