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Thursday, 24 January 2002  
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Government - Gazette

Sunday Observer

Budusarana On-line Edition

Split treatment to CWE

by Ravi Ladduwahetty

The Government will establish five separate limited liability companies from the cash strapped Cooperative Wholesale Establishment (CWE) while retaining the ownership of the organisation, in a major restructuring program in a bid to recoup Rs. 1.3 billion in losses and also to ensure the continuity of its 8900 strong workforce.

Under this restructuring programme, the entire establishment will be under a holding company while there will be separate companies floated for retailing, wholesaling, distribution and other general business, Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Ravi Karunanayake told a news conference at the Ministry auditorium yesterday.

A further highlight is that the CWE's retailing will be handed over to private sector management as this area has proved to be very weak. This will also stop thefts and the corruption which has been continuing unabated in the past, Minister Karunanayake told journalists.

The current status of the organisation is that the loss per employee is Rs. 187,000 per annum for 2001.

However, he asserted that under no circumstance will the CWE be privatised. It will be only a management contract for the retailing of the organisation, he said.

According to the Minister, the restructuring programme will also ensure that the CWE's fourth subsidiary will go into general business lines which means that it will have scope for business lines which have not been hitherto thought of such as power generation, ship chandling, manufacturing services and a host of others.

Some companies will even go for listing in the Colombo Stock Exchange and even the Board of Investment as well.

The Minister also stressed that he has given a time frame of five hundred days for this turnaround and asserted that there will be no politicisation of the organisation in the future where cronies of politicians are filled in on an arbitrary basis.

He also said that the arrangements will be made to open the CWE branches in the Northern and Eastern Provinces soon if the residents of these areas expressed willingness to operate them. He said that he took that decision in the light of the CWE employees in the south refusing to work in these strife torn areas.

The idea is that the services those are offered in the rest of the country should also be offered in these areas without any discrimination. Minister Karunanayake also asserted that the 7 percent import duty imposed on rice would be protection for the local rice farmer.

He stressed that the highlight of the CWE restructuring is that there were no appeals made for Treasury Grants.

This is a self financing project he said.

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