Expressing concern over unproductive government-run institutions devouring billions of rupees, World Bank Country Director for Sri Lanka and the Maldives, Dr. Idah Pswarayi–Ridihough says that with a staggering Rs. 460 billion loss suffered by around 400 State-owned enterprises in 2016, the government is “contributing more to its public sector enterprise than receiving from it”.
The stupendous losses State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) incurred during this period far exceeded Sri Lanka’s Rs. 380 billion annual health budget, she said. “These losses continue; they have still not been tackled effectively”.
Dr. Pswarayi–Ridihough was the keynote speaker at the launch of the Handbook on Good Governance for Chairmen and Boards of Directors of Public Enterprises, at Chartered Accountants (CA) Sri Lanka, last week.
Speaker Karu Jayasuriya was the chief guest at the event
These losses these SOEs continue to suffer impact on fiscal costs and fiscal risks. Many of these institutions have reported significant persistent operating losses. Nett transfers from the government to bail out these public enterprises were an unimaginable 460 billion rupees, she pointed out.
Public enterprises represent a major part of Sri Lanka’s public sector institutions. Therefore, their governance is of paramount importance, she stressed.
The total turnover of 55 SOEs totalled 1.5 Trillion rupees or some 13 percent of GDP in 2016. The World Bank, with government counterparts sought a citizens’ perspective on public enterprises. The results of an opinion survey launched showed many Sri Lankans were critical of the performance of public enterprises, Pswarayi–Ridihough said.
“Around 38 percent of those surveyed complained these institutions performed poorly. In addition, another 36 percent opined that the quality of services was very poor”, she said.