18 April, 2024


Sri Lanka Has To Await Lab Tests To Improve Efficiency Of SOEs!

By Rusiripala Tennakoon –

Rusiripala Tennakoon

Speaking at an event a few days before in Colombo, Dr. Sarath Amunugama, the Minister of Science, Technology, Research, Skills Development  and Vocational Training including Kandyan Heritage has dealt with the need to investigate into Public money wasted !

Since this is a state that has been in existence over a long period of time and is highly relevant in the current context as well, we have to look at the Ministers statement carefully. Hence before doing so I wish to quote below an excerpt from the references made by Dr.Amunugama:

How do you work better in the government? How do you work better in the corporate office? How do we improve all these state corporations that we have? Sri Lanka I think is a laboratory because we need experiments to see how these very inefficient giants can be at least brought into moderate efficiency, we are a country with so much of public money being wasted particularly through the state sector. We have to investigate the state sector, why is there so much waste why is so much money which is collected from the tax payers being wasted due to inefficiency to incorporate the lack of basic management skills, this is a big challenge for all our business school, the business schools must tackle the question of incompetence, corruption, mismanagement and waste in the state sector in Sri Lanka otherwise we cannot move forward” 

What the Minister stated about the prevailing state of affairs in the Public sector is very true. He has said it several times before too. Without disputing this fact I wish to view his statement from a different angle.

Firstly, Dr Amunugama accepts the fact that the level of performance of the state sector is even below moderate efficiency standards. We agree. Public concern of this fact has been adequately expressed wanting those in authority and governing the country to pay heed. The fact of the matter is they have failed. And the state of affairs continues. 

He has categorically admitted that huge amounts of public money is being wasted by state the sector. In his public statement quoted above he offers two solutions. One is to treat this scenario as a guinea-pig and conduct experiments of the laboratory type “to see how these inefficient giants can be at least brought into moderate efficiency”! It is therefore not incorrect for the Public of this country to assume that Ministers like Dr. Amunugama are without any  immediate  plans to eliminate Public wastage of funds by the State Sector organizations. They are still, after so many years, in the experiment stage. From our point of view it is indeed a sorry state of affairs.  What is worrying us is not the fact that there is wastage but to learn that the minister in charge of Science, Technology, Research and Skills Development informing the Public that we are yet at the primary , embryonic stage in finding a solution to a social menace that was in long existence! He appears to be very much puzzled about this situation in that he wishes to haunt through an experimenting path about ways and means to eliminate these.

Who is at the end of this vicious cycle of public wastage? There is no doubt the people at the helm of perpetration are the political appointees to these state controlled bodies. Mr Minister, the Public of this country have to pledge their innocence in this regard since they have no role to play. They only wait in expectation that the Ministers recommended to be appointed by the Head of the Cabinet have chosen their best picks to serve the country. And for ministry nominees to be highly competent, they should  have the capacity to manage the state sector organizations without waste, corruption and mismanagement. Now the Ministers are complaining publicly that it is not happening? God save the King! Can we do anything to help the situation?

The public of the country need not listen to any poetic presentations on their plight as taxpayers about the burden placed on them due to the utterly absolute inefficiencies of the ministerial political appointees to these institutions. When you appoint incompetent people how can you expect any competency in their affairs.  Sri Lankan Airlines is the most current glaring example. Some moron blockheads chosen by the political hierarchy based on either nepotism or their expertise to engage in maleficence bypassing the normal appointment criteria have created such a huge mess to the economy of this country. Aren’t the people who appointed them not responsible? In the case of Sri Lankan Airline mess it has become evident from the revelations made at the on- going commission of inquiry that those who appointed these nincompoops have used their power and authority to make public funds available at their disposal for their nefarious activities through dubious and  unscrupulous methods. We are witnessing how billions of State Bank funds have been misused in this colossal wastage and mismanagements. 

Mr. Minister, we have to regretfully state that no business school ( your second solution) will be able to put this right and your wishful panacea will never work. Instead if you really want to investigate as you have mentioned in your statement, all what we can add is that there will be a whole line of dereliction of duties and responsibilities extending to several public institutions, starting from the treasury, state banks, ministries and departments  either as contributory negligence or willful  criminal aiding . In some instances it may well have been due to undue influence and political pressure on the officials.

All these point towards one reality. That is the fault of the politicians in selecting unsuitable characters to head the state sector institutions. What is highlighted in the SL Airline case is only a tip of the iceberg. If one is alert to expressed public concern it is not difficult to surmise the existence of so many other skeletons in the cupboards. They will come to light one-day if not today under a future Yahapalanaya.

It is therefore prudent and appropriate for the business schools to devote some time to enlighten the politicos if they are truly interested in a course correction belatedly though. There is hardly anything to investigate. There will be other cards in the pack to play the game. If one is serious only. Country has gone through a long period criticizing and pinpointing these. Now they look forward to some concrete action beyond the lab-testing stage. Innocent public have only one thing to say. Look in the mirror. You will find the culprits responsible for this state of affairs quite candidly exposed by Dr. Amunugama as “the question of incompetence, corruption, mismanagement and waste in the state sector in Sri Lanka otherwise we cannot move forward” 

While we do not wish to attribute the gross inefficiency to the political authorities in this regard , for they will never accept such, we earnestly look forward to sanity for the sake of the future generations of this country.

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Latest comments

  • 12

    Amunugama’s sanctimonious talk about corruption in state corporations is revolting. If he’s genuine about his concerns, as a cabinet minister, he can do many things to combat the menace of corruption. Can he tell us one concrete action he has taken in this regard? Empty talk will only keep the doddering Nuwara Menikela entertained.
    Now this writer Rusiripala is the least qualified to talk about corruption. It’s like the Satan quoting scripture. He appears regularly on Sirasa – along with the maniacal hothead Bandula Jayasekera – to promote Kili Maharaja’s devious political cum corporate agenda.

    • 7

      “Who is at the end of this vicious cycle of public wastage? There is no doubt the people at the helm of perpetration are the political appointees to these state controlled bodies.”
      This is rather rich coming from a former Chairman of BOC. I assume Mr. Pala wants us to think that BOC was extra-efficient at that time.
      Still, at last he has managed to put in more than a few words about SL Airlines . But then nothing about the VVIP who appointed his brother-law as chairman. Why are you so coy, Mr. Rusiri?

    • 2

      Mr. RT says:”All these point towards one reality. That is the fault of the politicians in selecting unsuitable characters to head the state sector institutions. “
      There is only one solution, and only a suicidal government will touch it.
      Even the most efficient manager cannot turn around an outfit whic is as heavily overstaffed as SLA or the Railway for example. Will politicians like RT agree to mass retrenchment? Or even reduction in salaries? A lot of people at SLA and the Railway are highly overpaid.
      SLA is now too far gone to be privatized.

  • 5

    The State sector should recruit each and every employee based on merit and merit alone. However, easily said than done. Politicians pack the state sector with their stooges. Whether there is a cure for this cancerous growth of overstaffed, inefficient state sector is the big question since it is politically so sensitive. It will surely be NATO (no action, talk only) by any Government.

  • 0

    Dear Readers
    I am very worried
    Cos writing to CT exposes you interalia to people who have some axes to grind and agents of culprits masquerading renegades paid by culprits and corrupt people who will instead of dealing with the subject close to sling mud and insult.
    But there are many who read and understand things
    Devadatta had so many disciples who rolled stones sent intoxicated elephants prostitutes
    That is the reality
    Appearing in a tv seems to be this fellows main grouse
    What do you suggest
    Do you allowe bullshit as fair comments?

    • 4

      “Devadatta had so many disciples who rolled stones sent intoxicated elephants prostitutes”
      This is not that far from bullshit, Rusiri. Take it easy. Even Buddhist monks get insulted when they become politicians.

  • 2

    Sri Lanka will destroy itself. It’s too late. Nobody can help or stop it. That’s how I see it.

  • 0

    At one stage SOE’s did work and very well. We had the talent. We put to proper use. We still have the talent but mis-mis-misused!
    It started with the magic box: Hungry hyenas IN::Well-fed hyenas OUT.
    Politicians soon found hyenas made good bodyguards and started keeping them as pets. To feed them use was made of the magic box: Hungry hyenas IN::Well-fed hyenas OUT. SOEs were source of the magic boxes.
    The hyena owners started eating the regurgitated meat and here we are.
    Rusiripala mentions the PCoI revelations about SriLankan Airlines? Was it not a huge ‘Magic Box’. How big? Just look out for dispatches from the PCoI! The son of SriLankan Airlines episode?

  • 0

    I thinkAmunugama is in his 80s. Was he honest and was aware what he was talking. Just Take the Peoples Bank and Sri lanka air lines. Sri lankan air lines for two govts had been a corrupt place that provided employment for studid and corrupt relatives of politicians. Peoples babk, I heard is a paradise for friends of CBK, Ranil and Mahinda Rajapske etc and have gone bankrupt more than once. There are so many SOEs like that. So, amunugama was just LIEING.to the public.

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