On Monday, November 20, 2017, awards to the toppers of Business Today Top 30 - Best Banks and Companies were presented by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe. The annual Business Today awards ceremony, organised by the Business Today magazine for the 20th time on the 20th, was held at Shangri La Hotel in Colombo.
Wickremesinghe attended the event as the chief guest of the awards ceremony. The prime minister in his address was quick to say that he had confidence in Sri Lanka’s business, the private sector. These comments, at the Business Today Top 30 corporate and inaugural Top 10 passionate business people awards, were to highlight some of the challenges before the business community with the rising interest rates, trade liberalization initiatives and massive debt repayments and to emphasize the critical role played by the private sector in generating incremental growth.
Often the relationship between the government and business is complex, with both positive and negative aspects in terms of what can be called the ‘public good’. John Calvin Coolidge, Jr., the 30th President of the United States, once said the chief business of the American people is business. Very true, the private sector is the country’s chief economic force but it needs government regulation.
For example, the US government’s role in business is as old as the country itself; the constitution gives the government the power to regulate some commerce. In Sri Lanka, though the government’s role has increased over time, the business community still enjoys considerable freedom to operate.
BT Top 30
The Business Today Top 30 is an annual list compiled and published by the Business Today magazine that ranks 30 of the best corporates by 10 criteria for their respective fiscal years.
The list only includes publicly held companies for which financial data are publicly available. The idea of a Business Today Top 10 was created by its founder Mathi Parthipan. The methodology was developed by the writer and Keith Bernard.
The first list was published in 1997. The Business Today Top 10 is more commonly used than its wider list Top 30. The original Business Today rewards programme was limited to 10 companies based on the financial criteria. The magazine so far has not changed its methodology, however has expanded the list from 10 to 30 to include some of the emerging companies.
The Business Today Rankings is now an annual list compiled and published by the Business Today magazine that first ranks the largest companies by total shares traded for their respective fiscal year.
Thereafter, the selection is strictly based on the published financial information of the private sector companies listed on the Colombo Stock Exchange.
The financial criteria used to select the Top 30 are sales turnover, growth in sales turnover, profits, growth in profits, return on equity, earnings per share, market capitalisation, value of shares transacted and value addition.
History of BT
The Business Today Top 10 was first published in 1997. The original Top 10 companies featured on the list in 1997 were HNB, CTC, Commercial Bank, NDB, Hayleys, John Keells Holdings (JKH), Seylan Bank, Central Finance, DFCC and Distilleries Company. Only six of these companies are currently on the Top 10 list. The list from 10 has been expanded to 30. The criteria and the weights have remained the same.
My idea of private enterprise is very simple; the role of business is to create wealth. The word ‘wealth’ comes from two old English words – ‘weal’ and ‘th’ meaning ‘the condition of well-being’ or as Robert Kennedy put it, “the things that make life worth living”. Therefore, the role of business has always been the same, to grow and sustain the condition of well-being.
It’s clear that over time, society’s views and perceptions of business to operate have changed dramatically but one thing has remained central – the need for ethics, success and competitive advantage.
Therefore, companies, I believe, which understand their licence, are to operate ethically and create wealth and those which provide us with a picture of their business purpose must continue to be celebrated and rewarded publicly.
On the other hand, the government must also address the critical policy issues affecting international trade, tax collection, protection for minority investors, borrowing, contract enforcement and labour market regulation as important factors to ensure the vibrancy and growth of the private sector.
(Dinesh Weerakkody is a thought leader)