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Thursday, April 10, 2014 - 5.01 GMT

‘Selling public resources will not solve problems in the country’- President


President Mahinda Rajapaksa said the Government's decision to stop selling state resources helped develop the country.

He said the country's economy has improved owing to this policy of the Government.

"We firmly believed that selling public resources will not solve problems in the country," he said.

The President was speaking at the presentation of incentives to employees and farmers of the Sevanagala sugar factory at the Sevanagala sugar factory yesterday. President Rajapaksa said the notion which was prevalent that the Government cannot run an institution profitably has proved to be a lie.

The President said the Sevanagala sugar factory sets an example to other institutions too. He said the Sevanagala sugar factory has started making profits after it was taken over by the government two and half years ago.

"This is not the first institution that was sold for the private sector. The Insurance Corporation and Sri Lanka Telecom too were sold out," he said.

The President said past rulers of the country did not give an ear to the sufferings of the employees and the sugarcane cultivators after the Sevanagala sugar factory was sold to the private sector for a song.

This company was under the control of the private sector for over 10 years. The President said the Government was able to turn this factory into a profit making venture.

He said the Government did not deprive the people of their resources after it came into power. "This sets an example to other institutions as the Government was of the firm stand against the privatization of national resources."

This factory functioning under the Sugar Industries Development Ministry made a net profit of over Rs. 1,400 million in 2013. Rs. 300 million was distributed among farmers and employees of the company in the form of incentives yesterday.

President Rajapaksa symbolically presented incentives to farmers and employees of the company yesterday. The President added that the farmers received Rs. 3,200 for a metric tonne of sugar cane when the factory was operated by the private sector.

He said the Government increased the price for a metric tone by more than Rs. 1,000.

He said the then government sold the factory to a person with the factory's bank savings running into millions and sugar stocks too. The President said they waged a struggle in Parliament to protect these national resources. "The members of the academia and social activists launched a massive campaign to save these national resources from being privatized. The workforce of the factory was reduced from 1,200 to 250 after the factory was privatized," he said.

The President added that the person who bought this factory gave more prominence to the production of spirits that is used for the manufacturing of liquor.

He said the paddy harvest decreased with the onset of drought and a handful of businessmen bought paddy harvests from the farmers at a higher price. He said the Government did not raise objections over this as farmers benefited by this move. The President added that the paddy stocks were in the hands of several mill owners. The President said that the Government will implement a mechanism to protect the consumers too.





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Last modified: April 10, 2014.

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