ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka expects to raise an ambitious $4.5 billion from selling both profitable and loss-making state-owned enterprises, two officials said, as the crisis-hit nation is desperately looking for foreign inflows to come out of an unprecedented economic crisis.
“The list includes Sri Lanka Telecom, Litro Gas, Sri Lankan Catering, Airport Ground handling, Hilton Hotel, and many others,” one source told EconomyNext.
“We are open for negotiations and we will be doing everything in a transparent manner. We will start the divestment process with a sentiment boost after the IMF loan is approved.”
Another source who has the knowledge on the state-enterprise restructuring confirmed the move.
“We estimate to raise around $4.5 billion from selling 14 state firms.”
An Indian private firm has been keen on the loss-making SriLankan Airlines while Qatar is interested in some leisure assets, the second source said.
The divestment of the state assets comes as part of the government’s restructuring process of state sector enterprises.
President Ranil Wickremesighe has strongly said state sector restructuring is a must to reduce burden on the people.
Former Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa-led nationalist Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) has strongly opposed moves to sell state assets citing such privatization will have negative impacts.
Rajapaksa, when he was the president in 2008, did not extend a 10-year deal between currently loss-making SriLankan Airlines and Dubai-based Emirates after the airline refused seats to Mahinda Rajapaksa, the Sri Lankan president, and 35 officials who were visiting Britain.
Later he ran the local carrier with his brother-in-law as the chairman. However, the Airlines has been operating at a staggering loss since 2008.
Disclaimer: Sri Lanka eyes $4.5 bln from profitable, loss-making state asset divestment By SHIHAR ANEEZ - Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Latheefarook.com point-of-view