|Whither the private sector
Governments (PA & UNF) have in recent years placed implicit faith in the private sector as the engine of growth of the country. A recent statement made by the immediate past president of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Chandra Jayaratne, at a seminar organised by the Chamber, raises a number of questions on the validity of the governments faith in the private sector. Mr. Jayaratne castigates the private sector for its failures in meeting the aspirations of the governments and the people of this country. He has analysed in great detail the areas in which the private sector has failed. It is important to highlight these failings as Mr. Jayaratne should know best what he is talking about. He list the following:
Lack of accountability to stockholders; not conscious about productivity, quality, consumer interest and that of the environment; corrupt, unethical and not transparent; not entrepreneurial and has been risk averse; uncaring for society at large and being irresponsible; Not forward looking or thinking long term; believes in networking with the old boys club to the detriment of capability and efficiency.
All of the above adds significantly to the inefficiency of the private sector. The private sector should operate on the sound principle that the consumer is king. But how often, we the consumers, are taken for a ride by the private sector. Governments give concessions to the private sector mainly to cushion the impact of rising prices on the consumer. However, very seldom are these passed on to the consumer. The private sector with its tentacles firmly gripping the high places in government, is very clever in manipulating Government policy to meet their needs. The consumer is the big loser in this situation.
How can governments achieve their goals set for the economic and social development of this country if you rely on the private sector as the engine of growth of this country? This is a question we all must ask and seek immediate solutions if we are ever to progress in this country. The incumbent government, chambers of commerce and industry, the consumers and the captains of industry must put their heads together and seek viable alternatives to make the private sector also meet the aspirations of the country. Otherwise, before long, we will lose the government and the private sector for good. The recent scandals at the Securities Exchange Commission and the fiasco at the Pramuka Bank have left the public at large disenchanted with the ways of the private sector.
I firmly believe that we can pull the private sector to toe a moderate line which will
encompass the needs and aspirations of the public at large. Unless there is a change of
heart in the private sector, we will all end up in a greater disaster than what we are
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