Interview: Listing of Sri Lanka non-strategic investments may take a year, says Eran

Jan 25, 2016 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s government is putting in place processes to list some of its non-strategic investments on the Colombo Stock Exchange, although this may not take place immediately, Eran Wickramaratne, deputy minister of Public Enterprise Development, told Lanka Business Online.

“Within a year that’s possible. But whatever we are doing, we want to do it properly and transparently and we are putting the processes in place,” he said.

In budget plans for 2016, the government said it wants to streamline its portfolio of investments and will exit partially or fully from investments in Lanka Hospitals, Hotel Developers PLC (Colombo Hilton), Hyatt Residencies, Waters Edge, Grand Oriental Hotel, Ceylinco Hospital and Mobitel by listing such investments on the Colombo Stock Exchange.

The government’s portfolio includes enterprises engaged in maintaining and controlling strategic infrastructure in power generation, transmission, ports, airports, water supply etc., as well as non-strategic investments in hotels, condominiums etc.

The government is also coming up with an institutional framework to manage investments in commercial ventures, Wickramaratne said.

“We are simultaneous looking at models in other countries and in the region, but we have to come up with a model that suits our needs,” he said. “If the government is investing in commercial enterprises, they can be managed by professionals who can make professional decisions.”

In terms of advisors for these processes, Harvard University’s Center for International Development recently supported holding the Sri Lanka Economic Forum, and advisors would be sought on a case by case basis, he said.

“We had the economic summit, and we had professors who could be consulted on economic matters.”

“It depends on what the area is. Different institutions, as the need is there, get local or foreign consultants. We are open to getting expertise wherever we think there is a gap,” he said.