June 09, Colombo: Sri Lanka’s Sectoral Oversight Committee on National Security has advised the government against the plans to privatize Sri Lanka Telecom, the leading telecom service provider in Sri Lanka as it could expose sensitive information related to national security.
In a report submitted to Parliament, the committee said privatizing the Sri Lanka Telecom which is already 44.98% owned by private sector would expose the country’s critical communication infrastructure/sensitive information to private entities whose profit-oriented interests can compromise national security.
The chairman of the committee, Dr. Sarath Weerasekera, presented the report to the Parliament.
The report also points out that if private companies own important communication lines, national security and state security operations may be jeopardized and serious consequences may occur.
In the report, the committee has pointed out that anyone or organization who had been blacklisted, helped terrorists, extremists in any form should not be allowed to buy any share and have any control over the country’s national assets.
Therefore, before taking any decision in this regard, it is important to review the possible impact on national security, the report said.
It further states that if Sri Lanka Telecom is privatized, the ownership and control of the majority of its shares will be owned by private investors, and they will not think about the survival of the country but their profits.
The committee suggested that instead of privatizing SLT, several other measures can be taken to address the current economic issues.
The committee suggested the government to buy back the other large shareholders and then divide the entity into segments such as sensitive and vulnerable, excess lands and buildings, critical infrastructure and the business.
“Whilst retaining the first segments effecting National Security, the state can divest the others holding a major share through Private Public Partnership ensuring critical infrastructure is protected and all government regulations are adhered to. This way the government can exit from doing business whilst making profit and ensuring National Security,” it recommended.