We have a popular government at the moment. A government that keep on repeating that it doesn’t believe in privatization and that privatization is bad in general but a government that doesn’t believe in any of that. Those are just rhetoric to come into power and to stay in power. I firmly believe that when the need arises and when the hard reality hits these malfunctioning brains they will start with privatization. That is what should happen, and by looking at recently passed CEB bill and negotiations with the IMF for a whopping Rs 210 billion it seems like that is exactly what is happening.
Privatization is not bad. It amuses me when some people tell that private enterprise is good and the engine of growth is the private sector but that privatization is bad. How come that be? If private enterprise is good, handing the ownership of state enterprises to private sector should also be good. Having said that government retaining the ownership of some enterprises is ok. It should be case by case rather than privatizing all and everything or the complete opposite. If the ownership of the government doesn’t make any sense privatize them, those that have a direct impact on the public, retain the ownership but make them independent corporations. Have the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) which is managed by the government had any positive impact on the public? No. Have the State Pharmaceutical Corporation (SPC) had any positive impact on the public? Indeed yes. Have the privatization of Sri Lanka Telecom had any positive impact on the public? Of course. So why can’t we come into an agreement that corporations such as SPC would not be privatized by any means but something like the petroleum sector would be liberalized and more competition be attracted and if the CPC cannot compete let it go bust. That should be one objective of privatization, getting inefficient businesses out of the market.
This government is in a historic position to challenge popular beliefs and take the country in a new path. If they have the will, they can convince the public that privatization is not so evil (as they also painted it some time back), open economy is the only way forward for a tiny market as ourselves, economic reforms are a must for an economic revival, our state sector is way too big and those cheap talks about an agriculture based economy were not very serious. They can declare they will privatize these institutions because of these reasons and they will not privatize these ones for these reasons. I see no better time for that than this. So gentlemen in the government, my vote is always open, dare to grab it?