Sri Lanka business should demand better governance not subsidies: senior executive

March 05, 2008 (LBO) — A senior business executive urged Sri Lankan businesses not to ask for subsidies which were needed for a safety net for the poor that is hardest hit by inflation, but ask for better governance and economic management. “What the private sector should ask for is good governance, good macro-economic management and fiscal discipline, not subsidies,” former chamber chief Chandra Jayaratne told members of the Ceylon National Chamber of Industries.

“Industry should not ask for electricity subsidies.”

Subsidy Culture

Sri Lanka’s politicians of all hues have fomented a culture of dependence and subsidies where anything from tertiary education, to jobs to fertilizer, fuel and energy is asked from the government free or below cost for decades.

In recent days the island’s industrial sector has ratcheted up protests against a planned power tariff hike saying export industries will leave the island unless they received subsidized power.

“I know a lot of you had made proposals to the government and what I am saying is not popular,” Jayaratne told a seminar where industrialists tried to find ways to manage businesses amid high inflation.

“But when costs increases permanent subsidies are not the