The Distilleries Corp of Sri Lanka (DSCL), owners of Pelwatte Sugar Ltd before the government-takeover in November 2011, is battling to regain its right to the property.
Pelwatte was among 37 state-leased assets which were expropriated by the government on the grounds of 'underperforming or underutilized' organisations. In its 2011 annual report released last week, DCSL said the Expropriation Act empowers the vesting of land leased during a period of 20 years before its enactment, whereas the lease agreement is older than that.
DSCL said though the government has occupied the land, it believes the land that was used by Pelwatte has not been vested in the state. "At this moment we are unable to comment further on the implications on the ruling as we await instructions by the Secretary to the Treasury," it said.
Meanwhile the Finance Ministry's annual report for 2011 released last month says that 11 new investors including BCC Lanka, MAS group and Expolanka have taken over 11 of these 37 organisations with a planned, total investment of US$46.92 million.
The report said Somlotus Pvt Ltd is investing $29.95 million on the former Heath Foods Products property to set up an assembly for home appliances for export; JAT Holdings has taken over the Sinotex Lanka property to set up a $7.5 million paint manufacturing plant for the domestic market; Expo Lanka has acquired a second Sinotex property to launch a $5 million value addition centre; MAS Intimates is setting up a garments unit at the former Tendon Lanka property and BCC Lanka has taken over a Vanaspathi project to manufacture edible oil, soaps, disinfectant and washing powder.