Sri Lanka state enterprises a big burden: minister

March 25, 2009 (LBO) – Sri Lankan state enterprises come begging to the Treasury for money to pay staff salaries, instead of making profits and contributing to national development, a senior government minister said. “One of the strange functions as the minister of finance in Sri Lanka is to handout checks at the end of the month to workers of 100 odd corporations that can’t make the money to pay the salaries of these people,” said Sarath Amunugama, a former finance minister and current deputy finance minister said.

“The treasury does not get anything, this is unacceptable.”

Sri Lanka has powerful state trade unions which have propagated a philosophy that prevents re-structuring and privatization of state enterprises, despite running massive losses and giving poor service to the public.

In 2007, the Sri Lanka Transport Board, a state bus service got 3,654 million rupees as current subsidies and was slated to receive 4,936 million last year. Its capital subsidy was 2,610 million rupees in 2007 and a provisional 2,767 million in 2008.

Sri Lanka Railways, which has also resisted re-structuring, with the help of the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna, a Marxist-nationalist party, lost 4,767 million rupees in