The Patriotic National Movement yesterday filed a Fundamental Rights petition in the Supreme Court challenging the legality of the cabinet’s decisions to divest or alienate several state-owned enterprises (SOEs).

The President of the Patriotic National Movement,Dr. Gunadasa Amarasekera, and its General Secretary, Dr. Kulathunga Mudiyanselage Wasantha Bandara, filed this petition, naming President Ranil Wickremesinghe and the Cabinet of Ministers as respondents.

The petitioners state that alienating the controlling authority of the government and giving unlimited access and powers to manage the telecommunication system and airport-based services would expose national security to unexpected uncertainties, threats, and dangers.

The cabinet memorandum dated August 31, 2022, was presented by President Wickremesinghe for the establishment of a State-owned Enterprises (SOEs) Restructuring Unit, which states as follows:

a) The commercial businesses owned by the government have not been performing satisfactorily for a long time. Therefore, it is necessary to introduce the necessary reforms for those business organizations in order to run them efficiently and profitably.

b) Some of the government-owned businesses have been making losses on a continuous basis due to various reasons;

c) Considering the above, it is essential to find an alternative mechanism to manage these enterprises efficiently. Accordingly, setting up a restructuring unit under the Ministry of Finance, Economic Stabilization, and National Policies is a key policy step aiming at identifying possible ways to minimize the fiscal burden on the General Treasury on the one hand and improve SOEs overall performance on the other;

d) The functions expected to be performed by the SOE Restructuring Unit are also stated therein.

Accordingly, the approval of the Cabinet of Ministers was given to establish the State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) Restructuring Unit to function under the Finance, Economic Stabilization, and National Policies ministries.