It appears state-owned enterprises (SOEs) have risen in salience in Sri Lanka recently. I am giving a keynote address on this topic at the launch of the Advocata Institute. The slideset that I will be using is here.
The day before yesterday, I was debating on a TV talk show what should be done with the least defensible of the SOEs, the renationalized SriLankan Airlines and the misbegotten Mihin Lanka. It is interesting that the successful reform that I was associated with, telecom, keeps coming up in these discussions.
On May 17th, the Colombo University MBA Alumni Association has pulled together a panel to discuss the topic. I’ll be speaking at that too.
Hopefully, we will push thinking in the right direction through these discussions. At the talk show I think I was able to get the participating politicians, at least, to look beyond things like national pride and job security for the employees, at issues such as the logic of investing public money and imposing political decision making on inherently risk-laden activities such as running airlines. Facts such as the inefficiency of SriLankan with 333 employees per aircraft (behind only Syrian Air and Pakistan International Airlines) appeared to make an impact on at least those who do not buy into the labor theory of value (according to that politician, it is essential to have more employees to exploit, otherwise no value can be generated!). Accordingly, Syrian Air, with 400 employees per aircraft is the one to emulate.