It is widely speculated that Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) Chief Dr. Nalaka Godahewa will be appointed as the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) new Chairman, following the contentious resignation of Tilak Karunaratne.
Talking to Mirror Business yesterday, Godahewa said that there has been no official communication so far from the Finance Ministry, though his appointment as the head of the regulatory body is extensively speculated.
“Yesterday alone, I received more than 100 calls congratulating for the new appointment as the SEC head. But I have not been communicated about this appointment so far,” Godahewa said.
According to brokers, the recent share sale by Godahewa has further fueled these speculations. As they pointed out Godahewa, has been selling some of his shareholdings in listed firms in the market.
“Yes, as any investor, right through out, I was buying and selling shares. Also, like any normal investor, I was leveraged and given the present high interest rate scenario and sold some of my holdings. Apart from that, certain shares were disposed because I didn’t want them in my portfolio,” Godahewa noted.
Among other investments, Godahewa is the 7th largest shareholder of Colombo Land & Development PLC, where he sits as the Chairman, and 10th and 16th largest shareholder of Waskaduwa Beach Resort PLC, a subsidiary of Citrus Leisure PLC.
Meanwhile, Godahewa currently serves on director boards of Lanka Hospitals PLC, Uraban Development Authority, Sri Lanka Handicrafts Board, Liberty Holding (Pvt) Ltd, Liberty Plaza Management Corporation and Agrispice (Pvt) Ltd.
He also serves as the Chairman of Divasa Finance, a company controlled by advertiser turned investors Dilith Jayaweera and Varuni Amanugama Fernando, which has now been renamed as George Steaurt Finance and received a preliminary approval from the Colombo Stock Exchange to list its shares by way of an Introduction. Godahewa’s certain investments and directorates have now come under media spotlight, some alleging that his Chairmanship in Colombo Land & Development Co. PLC is against the Tourism Act, as the firm recently announced its intention to build a city hotel.
Section 5 of the Tourism Act, No. 38 of 2005 states, “A person shall be disqualified from being appointed or from continuing, as a member of the Authority, if he is, or becomes,— (a) the owner, partner, director, majority shareholder or an employee of, or in, any business which operates or provides tourist services of any class or description.”
However, Godahewa maintained that Colombo Land & Development Co. PLC was a real estate development company, primarily engaged in selling and leasing of investment properties.