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August 4, 2007 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s state sector has to improve governance for the country to progress, at a time when private firms were coming under increasingly tight regulation and self regulation, a senior business executive said. Former chairman of the Colombo Stock Exchange and current chairman of Hatton National Bank Rienzie Wijetilleke said firms set up under the Companies Act were asked to follow governance rules but enterprises formed under an Act of Parliament were exempt.

“In my own area, the few large private banks were brought under governance rules,” Wijetilleke said.

“But some of the big banks which are enjoying more than 60 percent of the market are not under governance rules. Why is that?” he questioned.

“If there were independent directors in institutions like the CEB [state power utility], CPC [a state petroleum retailer], People’s Bank and Bank of Ceylon would they have been a burden on all of us?”

Moral Hazard

Energy utilities have been forced to suffer massive losses for political popularity for years, and in the process contributed to exchange rate depreciation and macro-economic imbalances.

The Ceylon Electricity Board suffers chronic losses with sections of the political

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