Tuesday, 17 December 2019 07:58

Government urged to strengthen SOEs and their service delivery

The government has been urged to actively engage in strengthening SOEs and their service delivery by compiling a comprehensive list of all SOEs and setting basic reporting procedures.

The need of strengthening the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) and Committee on Public Accounts ( COPA) and implementing the internationally accepted Principles of Corporate Governance.

This was recoomended by Advocata Institute, an independent policy think tank based in Colombo in their recent research report on SOEs.

A recent report by the Institute highlighted that SOEs are vulnerable to mismanagement and corruption because of potential conflicts between the ownership and policy-making functions of the government, and undue political influence on their policies, appointments, and business practices

According to the survey: 81% of Sri Lankan’s claimed that state enterprises do not provide enough services to justify losses.

A door to door public opinion poll conducted earlier this year covering 855 respondents in 8 provinces of Sri Lanka reveal that an overwhelming majority of Sri Lankans believe that the losses sustained by State-Owned Enterprises are not justified, compared to the services they provide.

The poll found no significant differences among income, gender or socio-economic groups. Respondents from the Central Province were more likely to believe that the services provided justified losses, with 39% holding this opinion.

Those from the Southern and Western Provinces were least likely to believe that the services justified losses, with only 6% from the Southern Province and 12% from the Western Province saying the losses were justified.

According to the Third Report of the COPE, the 18 SOEs with financial statements investigated in the report made a net loss in 2018 amounting to Rs. 61 billion.

The report highlights that the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation alone made an enormous loss of Rs. 105 billion in 2018, while the National Water Supply and Drainage Board incurred a loss of Rs. 505 million, and Elkaduwa Plantation Ltd. incurred a loss of Rs. 33million.

Of the 23 institutions being examined, five were found to have annual losses over Rs. 2 million, while another five did not have end-of-year financial statements to present.

(LI)

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