Clean Sweep

Feb 26 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s trade ministry is looking at appointing a liquidator to close a state trading firm that went bankrupt in a failed privatization attempt, an official said. Sathosa Retail, incorporated to take-over the supermarket operations of the Co-operative Wholesale Establishment (CWE) is estimated to owe more than 800 million rupees to suppliers and utilities.

Trade Secretary R M K Ratnayake says the government wants to appoint a liquidator to close the business.

Already about three parties have filed action against the firm. Ratnayake says the ministry is consulting the attorney general department on the possible future course of action.

The management of Sathosa Retail, was handed over to a consortium of private investors with a 40 percent stake as part of an exercise to restructure the CWE which accumulated more than 9 billion rupees of losses in the late 1990’s.

The consortium which took-over the retail operations including Ceylon Biscuits and the Richard Pieris group later pulled out as labour unrest flared up and a rights issue to raise funds for a voluntary retirement scheme got bogged down with no state subscriptions following a change of