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Govt. urged to update book value of imported ceramic products



By Hiran H.Senewiratne 

Sri Lanka Ceramics and Glass Council (SLCGC) urges the government  to update Sri Lanka Customs’ (SLC) ‘Text book’ or book value of key ceramic products imported into the country to protect local industrialists.

“There is an absence of a proper mechanism to implement the Anti-Dumping and Countervailing Duties Act of 2018 to protect local producers from unfair competition for key ceramic local products,  SLCGC member and Art Decoration International (Pvt) Ltd. Founder Chairman, S. H.B. Karunaratne said. An SLCGC press conference was organised to focus on these matters by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce on  Tuesday.

“To import a complete set of ceramic sanitaryware, which weighs 65 kgs and includes a commode, tank, basin, pedestal, seat cover and water fittings, the book value of valuation stands at US$ 35.00/Rs.6,350. This is an unrealistic amount as a complete set of ceramic sanitaryware cannot be manufactured for such a low cost,  Karunaratne said

“Once this is amended, local manufacturers will be able to compete with imports and it will also prevent cheap inferior quality items being dumped into our country. And this will also help to stop the huge outflow of foreign exchange, Karunaratne added.

“SLCGC seeks state intervention to correct this unrealistic valuation by amending the SLC’s “Text book” value to US$100.”

He pointed out that this would help Sri Lanka to resume sanitaryware imports and thereby pacify the World Trade Organization (WTO).

“Importers can continue their businesses, while the consumer will also be safeguarded, he added.Import restrictions still remain in force for sanitaryware products.

‘Sri Lanka’s ceramic industry saw its market shrinking by 35-40 percent last year mainly due to adverse impacts of COVID-19, according to SLCGC Vice President Mahendra Jayasekera.

However, he noted that prior to February last year, before the import restrictions came into force, Sri Lanka’s ceramic manufacturers, in particular the tile industry, had seen their inventories running up to 7 to 10 months, mainly due to influx of “cheap” and “low quality” imports of such items.

Since, import restrictions came into place, Jayasekera noted that most of these inventories were sold out. He stressed that local manufacturers haven’t raised their prices despite the import restrictions.

Although listed entities reported a surge in their profits in the last couple of quarters, he said in the upcoming quarter the profits of these entities might come down as these entities now depend on current productions with most of the piled up inventories being already sold out.

SLCGC Vice President Aravinda Perera noted that if the current environment is maintained over the next two years, the country would be able to be self-sufficient in ceramic tiles and sanitaryware products.

SLCGC said current industry players have earmarked around Rs.20 billion worth of investments to expand their operations in the country. 

Further, Jayasekera noted that several new entrants could also be expected during this year to meet the local demand.

According to SLCGC, local manufacturers currently fulfil around 60 percent of the local demand for ceramic products.

“Äs of now the ceramic industry of Sri Lanka has 20,000 employees, and with the current government policy, manufacturers are willing and ready to invest around Rs.20 billion to expand their current production and to set up new factories, which will in turn create around 15,000 – 20,000 new job opportunities for our youth, the SLCGC said.While welcoming competition, Jayasekera predicted that Sri Lanka could experience an excess of production in two years, enabling the country to export such products.

However, SLCGC expressed its concerns on the reduction of duty and cess imposed on ceramic imports by approximately 10 percent by the last budget despite the government’s assurance in supporting local industrialists.They insisted that policy consistency is the most crucial aspect in supporting local industries and entrepreneurs. 

The Council also sought government’s initiative to raise the minimum value of the duty for tiles to US$ 5 per square meter.

Further, it also urged the government to come up with a realistic policy framework in terms of mining resources, such as, ball clay.

Karunaratne pointed out that the current Agrarian Development Act requires amendments to facilitate mining in paddy fields to source ball clay, which is a crucial raw material for the industry.


Elon Musk launches profane attack on X advertisers




In a profanity-laced outburst, Elon Musk has slammed advertisers that have left X, warning they will kill the social media platform.

At an event in New York, he accused companies that have joined an ad boycott of the site formerly known as Twitter of trying to blackmail him.Some firms have paused advertising on X amid concerns over antisemitism, including a post from Musk himself.

“Go [expletive] yourself,” the billionaire said in an interview.

The Tesla and SpaceX boss apologised on Wednesday for that post, saying it might be the “dumbest” thing he has ever shared online.

But it was his response to a question about an advertising boycott by companies including Disney, Apple and Comcast that caused a stir at the gathering of leaders from the worlds of business, politics and culture. “I don’t want them to advertise,”  Musk said at the New York Times’ DealBook Summit. “If someone is going to blackmail me with advertising or money go [expletive] yourself.

Go. [Expletive]. Yourself. Is that clear? Hey Bob, if you’re in the audience, that’s how I feel.”

He was apparently referring to Disney chief executive Bob Iger, who spoke at the summit earlier in the day.

In the room with Musk was Linda Yaccarino, X’s chief executive, who has been charged with trying to bring back advertisers to the platform.Musk also said that advertisers could kill X. “What this advertising boycott is going to do is it’s going to kill the company,” he said. “The whole world will know those advertisers killed the company, and we will document it in great detail,” he added.

Ms Yaccarino has since reposted what she called his “candid interview”, adding her perspective on advertising that “X is standing at a unique and amazing intersection of Free Speech and Main Street — and the X community is powerful and is here to welcome you”.

Musk has been on a visit to Israel after he last month appeared to personally back an antisemitic conspiracy theory. “I’m sorry for that tweet… it might be literally the worst and dumbest post that I’ve ever done,” he said on Wednesday. The boycott isn’t just to do with that post, though.

Many advertisers had already decided to spend their dollars elsewhere.


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ILO together with EFC launches pilot project to address employee grievances at the workplace



EFC's team of trainers visited the selected companies and engaged in discussions with their management

Five companies volunteer to participate in the project

By Sanath Nanayakkare

Grievance handling in Human Resource Management (HRM) refers to the process by which employee complaints, concerns, or disputes are formally addressed and resolved. The goal is to provide a structured channel for employees to express their concerns or report issues they are facing in the workplace for the benefit of the company, the management and the employees.

True to those values, the International Labour Organization (ILO) recently invited the Employers’ Federation of Ceylon (EFC) to initiate a pilot project to launch Grievance Handling Guidelines that were formulated through several workshops conducted in 2019 in consultation with ILO constituents.

Giriulla Mills Ltd, HNB Assurance Ltd, HNB General Insurance Ltd, Cambio Software Engineering and Taj Bentota Resort and Spa, volunteered to participate in this project. They represented the manufacturing, finance, IT, and hospitality sectors respectively. The pilot project was formally launched on 20th September 2022.

EFC’s team of trainers visited these selected companies and engaged in discussions with their management to gain insights into their existing employee grievance handling systems.

They also gathered feedback from employees to assess their satisfaction with present grievance mechanisms. Based on the findings, EFC team developed customised grievance handling policies aligned with each organisation’s culture and specific requirements of each company to ensure practical implementation of the same.

All these grievance policies were designed in adherence to the Guidelines on Grievance Handling which were established for Sri Lanka in 2019 through workshops conducted by the ILO.

Following the development of these policies, four training sessions were conducted for the management teams of the participating companies. During these training sessions, the policies were presented in detail. The sessions also aimed to provide a comprehensive understanding of what constitutes employee grievances, the importance of addressing them promptly and the potential consequences if grievances are left unattended.

In addition to policy dissemination, the training sessions also focused on equipping managers with the necessary skills to effectively handle employee grievances. This included discussions on communication strategies, conflict resolution techniques, and the importance of empathy and active listening when addressing employee concerns.

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ComBank wins ‘Best Treasury Team’ at CT Marquee awards for financial institutions



Commercial Bank’s Head of Treasury Tivanka Damunupola accepts the award on behalf of the Bank

The Commercial Bank has won the Marquee award for ‘Best Treasury Team’ in the Financial Institutions category at the 2023 CT Awards presented by Corporate Treasurer – the print publication in Asia dedicated to treasury teams and Chief Financial Officers (CFOs).

The CT Awards ceremony was held at the Marriot Tang Plaza Hotel in Singapore on Tuesday 21 November 2023. The event celebrated treasury professionals who operate at the top of their class across three categories – House awards, Marquee awards and Best Treasury & Finance Strategies.

“The Treasury Department’s unwavering commitment to delivering outstanding results across various dimensions is at the heart of the Bank’s exceptional performance,” Commercial Bank’s Deputy General Manager Treasury Mr Asela Wijesiriwardane commented.

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