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T B Ilangaratne – we owe him much!

Summary

He the first Finance Minister to present the national budget in Sinhala, the reason – to open the doors for entrepreneurs from the cities as well as villages to Sri Lanka’s economic opportunities, to broadbase the naturally agro-based country,

TB Ilangaratne’s achievements are overwhelming: Declaring a holiday on account of May Day, recognising this as a special day for workers, and establishment of the Employees Provident Fund. The EPF was established under Act No15 of 1958 and is now the largest Social Security Scheme in Sri Lanka. The EPF today has become a huge “Peace of Mind” for employees in the Private Sector, State-sponsored Corporations, Statutory Boards, and Private Business.

     The adoption of the Labour Disputes Act, Creation of Shops and Office Employees Act, Passing of Maternity Leave Act, providing light work to pregnant mothers, Implementation of the Workers’ Compensation Act, Establishment of the National Wages Commission, Establishment of Vocational Training Centres, Abolition of the right of employers to dismiss employees abruptly, facilitate trade union representatives to attend foreign conferences.

     Some institutional work he was responsible for: nationalisation of private petroleum companies such as Royal Dutch Shell, Mobil gas, Caltex and Esso, transferring its assets to the newly formed Ceylon Petroleum Corporation, and its refinery to refine crude oil, nationalization of insurance, and establishment of the Insurance Corporation, of the People’s Bank, and the National Lotteries Board; adoption of the Shipping Corporation Act; establishment of Sathosa, launching Oberoi Hotel created under the Sathosa establishment; establishment of State Trading General Corporation (now Rajawasa), the State Tractor Corporation, State Textile Corporation (Salu Sala), Consolidated Export Corporation, Co-operative Services Commission, National Fruit Board, National Pricing Commission, creating a price control department to protect consumers; transfer of dried fish importation business to the State (CWE) on account a gold smuggling racket amongst some private importers.

     He’s also credited as the first Finance Minister to present the national budget in Sinhala, the reason – to open the doors for entrepreneurs from the cities as well as villages to Sri Lanka’s economic opportunities, to broadbase the naturally agro-based country, and to create opportunities for students to study economics in Sinhala… He was also responsible for widening tea exports, hitherto restricted to England, directly to the rest of the world, breaking the monopoly of Oil imports restricted to England, and opening importations to West Asia and Russia.’

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