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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 79

Dr Lalith Kotalawala declares that he has the key to.......

[b]Dr Lalith Kotalawala declares that he has the key to wipe out poverty within 2 years.[/b]

[b]By Q Perera - Our Business Correspondent[/b]

Colombo, 26 June, ( In Sri Lanka the business community especially the leaders of business should be given a leading role in the governance and given them a free hand so that they could salvage the economic woes. They sometimes enjoy a free hand as there are instances the government has been compelled to give-in as in the case of labor matters.

But when one look at things that are happening in the country, Business leaders as individuals or as groups have been dumb to the plight of the country - the economy is in shambles, prices of essential items have exceeded the sky limit rendering the ordinary man who constitute the majority to starve, transport sytem in chaos and in total everything is in chaos.

Agriculture, rural economy and local industry are vitally important to sustain a stable economy, but the private sector has miserably failed to persist on these vital areas and the country’s successive Governments never sought the private sector to play its role in contributing the economic advancement.

The “Asian Tribune” had the occasion of meeting one of the most prominent versatile and successful business leaders of Sri Lanka - Dr Lalith Kotalawala who is the Chairman, Ceylinco Group of Companies that includes more than 100 companies, according to a count.

In the course and exclusive interview, Dr. Lalith Kotalawala declared that given the opportunity, he could eradicate poverty in this country in two years using his own resources.

Excerpts of the interview with Dr. Lalith Kotalawala :

Question: You are the Chairman of a large number of companies. Would it not be unwieldy and what is the strategy of your exceptional success?

Dr Lalith Kotalawala: My strategy basic are right. I select people without racial or religious bias and I have a unique organizational structure which I invented myself. It is called cellular structure, different from the usual pyramid. These are the basic ingredients for my success.

Question: Your background and as to how you became one of the most successful entrepreneurs in Sri Lanka? Dr Lalith Kotalawala: I was born to a rich family. My family was well-known in Sri Lanka fighting for Independence and patriotism is in my blood. My uncle, Sir John Kotalawala was the third prime minister of Sri Lanka. We were very wealthy. We had a mansion with 18 servants and at the age of 15 to 16 years I used to play polo and we never encountered any problems. In 1960, Communism swept over South Asia. Sri Lanka changed its economic policy under Mrs Sirimao Bandaranaike and everything went - our land, our businesses were nationalized our mines were taken over, our estates everything was taken over.

I am the only son for my father. My father died a brokenhearted man in exile in England in 1973. I was alone when he died with a tiny press, a nationalized insurance company and the small finance company with about 116 workers, left. I believed that at that time I was desperate and I changed my values in life. I converted to Christianity because I found values according to Christianity and the life that Christianity shows to those in need was very inspiring to me.

I believe that always I have been guided by an invisible hand and protected me and I believe a great deal of my success has been due to that invisible force and it guided and protected me whole throughout. Because to make money and enrich myself no longer attracts me and I am using my wealth and success to help, specially those Sri Lankans who live in poverty in our country. I found that money is given to you to be used to alleviate the poor out of misery.

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