Tuesday, November 8, 2011

How easy is it to “Turn from Hero to Zero for Greed?”

 I was extremely saddened to see the fall from integrity of a business leader who I respected, turning into a lap dog of the administration for favors earned and expected. He is obviously willing to sacrifice his principals, which now I doubt he ever had for personal gain and misplaced expected glory.

In the “State of Business” TV program I saw Mr. Wegapitiya who was pontificating on the fact that the representatives were unaware of the content, when the delegation of officers representing all the Chambers of Industry including him went to meet the President to express their regret at the hasty introduction of a bill without even consulting the very stakeholders who are affected.

It is the content itself which is contentious and due to that by extension the possibilities of future additions despite Government assurances, which he should know better are at best ‘intentions’. I have studied the Bill very carefully and the underutilized and underperforming enterprises are not defined. That leads to content inadequacy and confusion, relegating the list to two schedules. At least the list can be incorporated into the body of the Bill to avoid confusion and future additions. Amendments then would require a new Bill. He obviously does not understand the subject and chooses to defend the indefensible for other reasons.

It was not too long ago that he sold a big chunk of his majority holding in Laugfs Gas to the EPF at prices well above the prevailing rate that raised many eyebrows. The eyebrows rose heavenward when his company bought back shares in the market at much lower prices a few weeks later. The implication was that he well knew the share price will fall. He could then replenish his stock. However, he was able to convince EPF which shows unjustifiable foul play in their investment decisions in the past few years. Any fool can tell the EPF that they will be able to buy a decent stock of any company at around 15% less than current prevailing market prices, in 2012, and to hold on to the funds of the workers of this country in order to make a better investment later, on behalf of the contributing public, who are almost all the working people receiving a wage in Sri Lanka.

Furthermore, with the CSE tanking, LITRO, which was to get a listing has been postponed. When CSE prices drop next year its value being so much lower will be sold to Laugfs Gas for a lower price. This will give it an unfair monopoly in the LPG market. The govt. will be forced to sell assets next year to meet IMF funding requirements, justifying the sale at bargain basement rates. This shows a very calculated move for personal gain, and consumers lose in the Banana Republic.

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