Official committee to make periodic briefings | Sunday Observer

Official committee to make periodic briefings

The Official Committee with regard to the restructuring of the national carrier, which has not met for the past two weeks will be hopefully meeting next week to review proposals of Nyras, Secretary to the Treasury Dr. R.H.S. Samaratunga who heads the Official Committee told the Business Observer.

He said the Official Committee will revisit the proposals of Nyras and make periodical briefings to the Ministerial Committee headed by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

Nyras, a UK based company specialized in aviation, made recommendations for the restructuring of SriLankan Airlines which was grossly mismanaged by the former regime plunging the national carrier into the abyss of debt.

“We have been briefing the Ministerial Committee from time to time on the proposals and once they are endorsed fully by the Ministerial Committee it will be presented to the Cabinet for approval,’ Dr. Samaratunga said.

There is no exact time frame for the completion of the restructuring process according to Dr. Samaratunga. However, both committees hope to see the completion of it as soon as possible.

‘We want to see the restructuring process coming to and end soon so that the airline could be turned around to be a profit making entity,’ he said.

As it is easily said than done, the process would need time since long term strategic planning has to be done to have a solid plan for the airline.

‘This is not an easy task that could be done overnight. It would take a considerable time as much planning has to come in in order to have a viable strategy,’ Dr. Samaratunga said.

‘We will look at all aspects of the proposals and make the recommendations to the Ministerial Committee as soon as possible,’ Dr. Samaratunga said.

The Officials Committee has looked in to 5-8 major areas that need urgent attention of the national carrier according to Dr. Samaratunga.

Ministry of Public Enterprise Development Secretary Ravindra Hewavitharana when contacted a fortnight ago said the internal restructuring process and finding a strategic investor for Sri Lankan Airlines is being carried out by the Ministerial Committee and the Official Committee.

Restructuring the airline which had run in to colossal losses due to mismanagement has been on the cards for a considerable time.

The national carrier which made an accumulated profit of Rs 9.288 billion in the financial year of 2008 turned into a loss making entity of Rs. 128.238 billion by 2016. Mihin Air launched in 2007 was the pet project of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and it is under his administration the two carriers ran in to crisis. Operations of Mihin Air was put to a halt and merged with the national carrier in 2016.

“Finding a strategic investor for the loss incurred entity is vital. Prior to that the internal restructuring has to be completed,” Hewavitharana said.

Aviation specialists have been harping that a solid plan to revive the airline is crucial to make it attractive for any investor to get the carrier back on wings. - LF


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