The state-owned enterprises (SOEs) have remitted nearly Rs.7.5 billion in dividends and levies back to the government coffers during the eight months to August in 2020, only a fraction of what the government got as dividends and levies during 2019.
According to the Finance Ministry data, the SOEs had transferred a total of Rs.5,081 million in levies and Rs.2,407 million in dividends into the National Treasury, which together works out to Rs.7,488 million during the eight months to August, a sharp fall from Rs.27,857 million a year ago.
As every year, the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL) led the transfer of levies, with Rs.2 billion being transferred but significantly down from Rs.8.95 billion transferred during 2019.
What the TRCSL had transferred as levies during the three years since 2016 has continuously remained well above Rs.22 billion a year.
The National Insurance Trust Fund (NITF), another heavier collector and payer of levies to the government, had only transferred Rs.500 million, down from Rs.3,268 million in 2019.
Meanwhile, People’s Bank and National Savings Bank transferred Rs.1.5 billion and Rs.1 billion, respectively in levies, in addition to Rs.316 million and Rs.60 million in dividends. Bank of Ceylon paid dividends of Rs.346 million to the government during the eight months—a constant dividend every year.
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation paid dividend of Rs.695 million, compared to Rs.1.72 billion in 2019, while Sri Lanka Telecom PLC paid Rs.947 million in dividends, matching the dividend payout in 2019.
The pandemic blunted the levies and profit transfers by the SOEs, as the institutions in the travel and tourism trades had the worst or zero transfers during 2020. For instance, the Sri Lanka Tourism Bureau, which transferred Rs.500 million in 2019, had zero transfers in levies in 2020. The Civil Aviation Authority of Sri Lanka, which had transferred Rs.800 million in levies every year, during the last three years, transferred none in 2020.
The story is the same for the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment, Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority, Sri Lanka Ports Authority, Airport and Aviation Services and Board of Investment.
The Ceylon Electricity Board, a giant state enterprise, hasn’t transferred any moneys to the state coffers since 2016, when it remitted Rs.8 billion back to the government.
Meanwhile, Ceylon Petroleum Corporation too hasn’t transferred anything for four years since it transferred Rs.10 billion in 2016, as its continuous losses prompted the government to infuse money into it to sustain its operations and pay the salaries of the workers of these institutions through bank overdrafts.
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