| by Daya Gamage
(November 03, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) The Government of Sri Lanka has deemed it lawful to takeover without prior warning or fair reasoning or hearing out companies that they believe to be underperforming or underutilized respectively.
Under the normal rules that govern Sri Lanka, for a Bill to become an Act of Parliament, the Bill must be tabled in Parliament firstly, where it can be not only be challenged and properly evaluated, but those who oppose it have sufficient time to argue their case. However, in this instance, this Bill has been brought directly through the Cabinet of Ministers as an ‘Urgent Bill’ and given to the Supreme Court for approval as a special determination, providing a mere 48 hours. This Bill has already been approved by the Supreme Court and can now become part of Sri Lanka’s governing laws once passed through Parliament. Hence it is both arbitrary and unconstitutional. This is to be taken up at a Parliament sitting next week.
This Proposed Bill has singled out 36 companies including Hilton Hotel, Pelawatta Sugar Industries Ltd (which was also divested recently and is a public company quoted in the Colombo Stock Exchange with the main share holders being Harry Jayawardena and Ariyaseela Wickramanayake) and Sevanagala Sugar Industries Ltd (owned by my company Daya Group (Pvt) Ltd).
The state owned sugar factory Hingurana (51% government owned) is not yet operational while Kantale (100% government owned) has been closed since 1993. Ironically, the Government tendered Kantale Sugar Factory for privatization a few months ago. Every single enterprise run by the Government including the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation, Ceylon Electricity Board and Sri Lanka Airlines operate at huge losses. Therefore, one of the clear consequences of this nationalization will be an increased burden on taxpayers who will have to finance these additional losses.
The oppressive manner in which the Government of Sri Lanka now rules, has allowed it to bring forth a Bill where it exploits the use of classification to target all those who oppose its unlawful actions.
Sri Lanka has truly reached a juncture, and if this Bill is allowed to pass, no private business or asset is safe and no Sri Lankan can safely enjoy the basic human rights he or she is entitled to enjoy under the Constitution as well as the UN Charter. Given that Pelwatte Sugar Industries Ltd which is a public quoted company is also included in this bill, all foreign investment and even local investment will cease, as no investor will be willing to invest, given that the Government will have the right to seize their lands, property and assets at will.
You may be a supporter of the current administration but remember this:
Today it is Sevanagala Sugar Industries Ltd. and Pelwatte Sugar Industries Ltd. that are to be nationalised. Tomorrow it may be your land, your property and your business.
I urge you to stand united, voice your opinion and prevent this Bill from coming to Parliament and becoming Law.