After another nail in the coffin for selling out
`loss making ventures':
Hambantota salt giant to nation
The new complex
The easy way out to reduce Government's financial burden is to
privatize the loss making entities and this was a practice very common,
before the UPFA Government took over.
Prime land and industries which were lying idle were sold to the
private sector for a `song' and in turn private sector converted them to
profit making ventures proving that privatization is not the right
avenue out of this.
One such project that came under the public auction hammer was the
Hambantota Saltern which had a rich history having being highlighted by
the legendary fiction writer and then Governor of Hambantota area, Sir
Leonard Woolf in the 1950s.
One of the main reasons for the Saltern to be constructed in
Hambantota was the fact that the area has all the natural resources
needed to produce salt. It was also said that even before the saltern
was created there was salt lying near the sea in Bundala area.
History says that villagers were used to picking up salt and ancient
kings from the up country sent bullock carts to transport salt.
Many say that the Ella-Wellawaya road was the first mode of transport
that linked the Hambantota saltern with the up country.
However the historic Hambantota Saltern was to be privatized for a
`song' and the then Minister of Labour Mahinda Rajapaksa vehemently
opposed this as he new the value of this property and the benefits it
would accrue the country.
K. M. Dharamadasa .
He then used some of the ETF funds and also offered 10 percent of the
company stakes to the workers thus saving a national and historic
landmark for the future generation.
Workers in the Saltern are still baffled as to why a decision was
taken to privatize it as it was not running at a large loss.
President Mahinda Rajapaks'a decision and the subsequent intervention
to save it has proved to be a very successful move as last year alone
the Saltern in Hambantota recorded the highest ever sales revenue of
over Rs.1 billion, compared to Rs. 632 million in 2008. This was
possible due to optimum production of 63,384 Metric Tons at the fully
automated salt processing and iodization factory.The highest ever
dividend of 40% has been declared to shareholders.
General Manager Lanka Salt Limited, Mali Bandara said that over the
years the salterns in Hambantota were upgraded. "However the biggest
development took place during the past three years as there was a
three-year plan which will be completed on schedule by the end of this
year," she said.
Bundala and Palatupana Salterns are now being developed as autonomous
production centres. "The company
that was to be privatized is now gone to the extent of exporting Salt
to Japan on a regular basis," she said.
The company also employed 2000 persons for the season.
The three-year plan is to be completed end of the year and President
Rajapaksa is expected to officially open it.
She said that construction of a new administrative building, office
complex, a laboratory and upgrading of the factory is now almost
She said that they have also created a museum and seek public
assistance to feed them with any information on the history of Salt in
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Tourism too is to be introduced with the Palatupana Saltern circuit
bungalow to be converted into a star class facility with air
conditioning and many other amenities.
In addition they are also planning to construct four eco friendly
luxury bungalows to attract more visitors while special dedicated
website too would be launched.