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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2681

'Profits cannot be taken to the grave'

By Janaka Perera

What should be the corporate sector's obligation to society?

This was one of the matters that the Isira Radio Channel focused on this week during its daily analysis of news events. Isira and Teleshan Network Limited (TNL) Chairman Shan Wickremesinghe raised this issue in response to the press publicity given to annual profits of the John Keell's Holdings Limited.

Noting that the group had recorded (after tax deduction) a profit of 5.12 billion for the year 2007 - according to John Keell's Chairman Susantha Ratnayake - the TNL Chief asked whether the Keell's group management knew what the word 'charity' meant.

The question was prompted by the fact that the group's overall revenue had increased from 27 percent to 41 percent as published in the press.

He said that Minister Bandula Gunawardene should probe the cause of rising food prices in the light of the Keells supermarket chain making such huge profits with the sale of essential consumer items.

The TNL Chairman asked why the group of companies had not given thought to contributing at least a small percentage of their profits to the welfare of injured police and armed services personnel and their families as well as civilians who have fallen victim to terrorist attacks. If the Keells group is really keen on giving such help it could get the list of names of victims and their families from the service chiefs, Wickremesinghe said.

Some of the injured military and police personnel have had their legs amputated and since many of them were the sole breadwinners of their families the latter are in dire straits.

The poor parents of one of the children injured in the Piliyandala bus bomb blast are residing in Nuwara-Eliya. And they cannot afford to stay in Colombo for visiting regularly their injured child, who has been mentally affected by being away from parents, according to the TNL Chief. These are the kind of people who need help, he stressed.

The TNL chief asked and Isira CEO Hudson Samarasinghe asked Keells bosses:

"Why do not come out of your air-conditioned rooms and go into the streets to see how people are struggling to survive? We are not expecting you to issue cheques but at least do what you can to help these hapless persons. "

If the John Keells billionaires could help to put up hospitals, schools or orphanages that would be been more meaningful than boasting in the press about profits and smiling at the camera like a publicity-hungry minister.

After all, said TNL Chief Wickremesinghe, no corporate boss can take company profits to the grave. So might as well spend a part of them in the service of fellow beings.

- Asian Tribune -

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