Posted on January 9th, 2017

Dr Sarath Obeysekera

Singapore’s true secret” is a government-driven program of high savings. Since the mid-1950s, workers have been required to pay a large share of their wages (in recent years 20 percent) into the Central Provident Fund. Employers contribute a further 16 percent. The fund meanwhile  invests in ways best calculated to power Singapore’s economic growth while simultaneously offering savers a reasonable return.

This is what we should do in Sri Lanka  to generate a fund .ETF having a extensive fund base goes  and lavishly buys off shares of the  private sector blue chip companies ,What they should have done is ,use the funds to build a Ship Yard in Hambantota  and invite Chinese  to operate .Not to hand over the port in  a plate .Dubai ,Oman ,and Qatar built Shipyard with state funds .Then invite UK and USA experts to run with Asian Labour ,All this is possible because the leaders wanted to build the country .

Another  point  is that a heavily state-funded Singaporean corporate sector can count on a patient capital. Hence Singapore’s rise in finance, electronics, and airport and harbor services. A remarkable example is Singapore’s Keppel Shipyard. Founded in the 1960s, it has consistently grown, even as the once-world-dominating British shipbuilding industry has withered. At last count, Keppel employed more than 30,000 workers, engaged mainly in building offshore oil rigs. By comparison, Harland and Wolff of Belfast, which up to the 1960s, claimed to be the world’s largest shipyard with a workforce of close to 50,000, is now down to 500. A key difference is that no matter how bleak the short-term outlook seemed, Keppel could count on patient capital to tide it over. Harland and Wolff enjoyed no such support and suffered a ratchet effect of redundancies in every downturn. Basically it was sacrificed on the bonfire of short-term market forces – with devastating implications for employment in Belfast and for Northern Ireland more generally.

Lee Kwan Yew invited British Companies to come back after independence to run shipyards under state control .State apparatchik was honest and the shipyards grew .

In Sri Lanka ,one example is Colombo Dockyard privatised by then UNP government who  gave the shipyard on a platter to Japanese for a mere 3.5 Million Dollars and 30 year extendable lease for  only 2 million Rs per month lease from the Port .Japanese did not want to immediately import their management style as it would not have helped .But they were patient. They allowed local CEO’s to run at will. State did not interfere and the business flourished  and Dockyard became leading corporate giant today .

What I suggest is that state should invest in such ventures and hand over to capable people to run .Appoint honest ministers to oversee.

President or Prime minister can become Lee Kwan Yew of Sri Lanka

Dr Sarath Obeysekera

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