Dhammika strikes patriotic note among Sri Lanka’s oligarchs

August 31, 2018 (LBO) – Arguably Sri Lanka’s richest man, Dhammika Perera struck a patriotic tone at the recent “fireside chat” event at the Colombo Hilton.

In a panel that comprised some of Sri Lanka’s most wealthy and influential businessmen (no women were on the panel), Perera stood out from the pack.  The panel included Harry Jayawardena, Dhammika Perera, Merril Fernando, Janak Hirdaramani, Ashok Pathirage and Sumal Perera.  The discussion was moderated by Daily FT Editor in Chief Nishtar Cassim and HNB Chairman Dinesh Weerakkody.

The highlight of a the event was an exchange between Access Engineering’s Chairman Sumal Perera and Dhammika Perera.  While Sumal was complaining about inconsistent policy with regards to taxation, Dhammika went down a more civic minded line.

Dhammika Perera was unterstanding of the need to raise revenue, and the additional tax burden that companies would have to face.  He was also offering help, and willing to engage policy officials to help improve the functioning of government.

Dhammika Perera has a history of involvement with government being a BOI Chairman and also Secretary to the Ministry of Transport in the previous government.  His commentary was indicative that he would like to be involved and help no matter what government is in power.

Sumal Perera suggested, partially in Trumpian jest, that Dhammika should should be a candidate at the next Presidential election.  There has been previous speculation that Dhammika Perera has political ambitions.

Dhammika Perera has diverse business interests throughout Sri Lanka.  In 2013, an article in Forbes magazine concluded that he was Sri Lanka’s richest man with a net worth of US$500mn.  If Perera can make it to the Forbes global billionaires list, he will be the first Sri Lankan since former hedge fund titan Raj Rajaratnam.  Forbes at one time estimated Rajaratnam’s net worth at over US$2bn. Rajaratnman no longer appears on the Forbes list.