By Chandeepa Wettasinghe
Private sector companies should sue government agencies which are not fulfilling contractual obligations, Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake urged last week, continuing his assault on the country’s public sector and officials.
During the 11th Ease of Doing Business Forum organized by the Finance Ministry, ALUCARE (Pvt) Ltd complained to Karunanayake that the State Engineering Corporation had only paid Rs. 825,065 out of Rs. 12.22 million in remuneration for services it provided over 5 years ago.
“Take legal action against them,” Karunanayake advised ALUCARE Director Lalith Kumarage, after warning State Engineering Corporation officials to repay the company as soon as possible to avoid such legal action. Previous Ease of Doing Business Forums had also featured private companies requesting the Finance Minister to intervene on their behalf to claim invoiced payments which have
In addition to delays in payments, Karunanayake said that the public sector is delaying trade and operations of the private sector as well. “Everything is delayed somewhere down the line. We’re asking the private sector to develop (the country) but we’re putting roadblocks,” he said.
Earlier during the week, Karunanayake had advised a gathering of professionals that they should not be afraid to challenge inefficient bureaucrats or politicians. He also recently locked horns with the Auditor General over a report on the bond infamous bond scam.
However the Finance Minister’s sentiments are confusing, since during multiple private sector forums in recent months he had complained that the private sector is not stepping up and taking enough risks even though the government is making the public sector efficient.
Verite Research had also said this month that bureaucratic interference and inefficiencies are key reasons for Sri Lanka’s lack of global competitiveness.
January was also notable for international entities ranking Sri Lanka among the most corrupt and highest risk countries for investing, despite the current administration coming into power in 2015 on a platform of good governance
The World Bank had also listed Sri Lanka as 110th in the world for 2017 in terms of ease of doing business, compared to 109th in 2016.
The government has set up 10 task forces to improve the 10 pillars evaluated by the World Bank when ranking a country’s ease of doing business climate, in order to push Sri Lanka within the top 100 countries by the end of this year. However, Central Bank Governor Dr. Indrajit Coomaraswamy had said that progress has been slow.
Taxes will come down once economy picks up
Taxes will be reduced to give relief to the people in the near future, once the economy gains momentum through the current strategies, Finance Minister Ravi
The minister pointed out that the plan to build the economy of the country has already been in place under the guidance of President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.
Minister Karunanayake expressed these views at the ceremony held to declare open a fully-fledged grain storehouse complex at Murunkan in the Mannar district on January 26.
To symbolize the opening of the storehouse, the minister received a stock of paddy from farmers at the complex. Minister Karunanayake who addressed the gathering after the opening of the storehouse said that the current government has been taking all possible measures to uplift the living condition of the farming community.
“Foreign loans had been borrowed excessively during the previous regime. However, a suitable environment has been created today for everybody to lead a better life than they did in the past. We do not expect to leave the present tax burden on the people for a long time. We hope to pass on the benefits to the people again soon after the economy reaches it imminent goals. Therefore, we request all the people to rally round this government to push this country towards the path of victory”, Karunanayake said. Minster of Industries and Commerce Rishard Bathiudeen, Mannar District Secretary M.Y.S. Deshapriya, Director General of Development Finance Department of the Finance Ministry A.M.P.M.B. Athapaththu, public servants of the area and a large number of farmers participated in the event.