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Govt. urged to update book value of imported ceramic products

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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.

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HNB promotes cashless transactions; joins CBSL’s ‘Rata Purama LANKAQR’ campaign

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Chief Guest for the event Money and Capital Markets and State Enterprise Reforms State Minister Ajith Nivard Cabraal, CBSL Deputy Governor and National Payments Council chairperson Yvette Fernando, and CBSL Payments and Settlements Director D. Kumaratunge with HNB Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer Dilshan Rodrigo as he completes a transaction via HNB SOLO at a merchant stall

HNB PLC, partnered with the Central Bank of Sri Lanka to promote the Colombo-leg of ‘Rata Purama LANKA QR’ campaign at Diyatha Uyana, to raise awareness and encourage the public towards cashless payments.

Having already linked LANKA QR to its digital payment app HNB SOLO, the bank was among other financial institutions and telecommunication partners in joining efforts to make cashless QR-code based payments the standard for mobile phones and digital payments countrywide, in moving towards a cashless and digitally-savvy Sri Lanka.

“We are entering a new era of financial technology, where almost all of our daily transactions will require no physical banknotes, but just a smartphone and internet connection with our bank account integrated to a digital payment app.

The Central Bank’s national directive for banks and financial institutions to adopt and integrate LANKA QR into their existing digital payment solutions has prompted an aggressive onboarding of merchants to the new payment solution across the country. With our extensive customer base, SOLO is no doubt a significant contributor to this innovative initiative,” HNB Deputy General Manager – Retail and SME Banking, Sanjay Wijemanne said.

The Colombo-leg of the ‘Rata Purama LANKA QR’ campaign raised awareness regarding SOLO’s many facilities, including zero human interaction, efficiency, and eliminated risks that influenced many vendors to come on board.

 

(HNB)

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Sri Lanka Insurance posts a staggering revenue of Rs. 55.2 billion during 2020

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Amidst the turbulent and challenging year Sri Lanka Insurance has closed year 2020 on a positive note recording phenomenal revenue growth with exceptional service innovations.

Sri Lanka Insurance the premier insurer to the nation recorded stellar performance in 2020 to record Rs. 55.2 billion revenue for the year, a marked improvement on the Rs.48.6 billion in the year 2019, a press release said.

It adds – In the year of 2020 Sri Lanka Insurance reported 30 % growth in life insurance premium increasing to Rs.19.2 billion whilst general insurance reported 7% growth in premium grew to Rs. 20.1 billion. The company achieved a combined Gross Written Premium (GWP) growth rate of 17 % during the year. General insurance contributed 51% towards the total GWP whilst Life Insurance contributed 49 %.

‘In continuing with its tradition of leadership, Sri Lanka Insurance in 2020 surpassed its own record to declare a sum of Rs.8.2 billion as bonus to policyholders. The cumulative life insurance bonus paid out during the past 10 years tops a massive Rs.54 billion making the SLIC bonus payout unmatchable.

‘As the national insurer we have witnessed yet another challenging year and the consequences brought out by pandemic outbreak urged us to conduct our business operations in a more empathetic manner. SLIC has always taken the lead to protect the nation and during this difficult time Sri Lanka Insurance launched many initiatives to sustain country’s health defenses while ensuring our customers receive uninterrupted insurance service.

‘As the pioneering insurance company in Sri Lanka we are in the forefront to inculcate the importance of insurance to the masses as a national responsibility on our shoulders. We will further strengthen internal capabilities to serve the nation through innovative and affordable insurance solutions which cater to all Sri Lankans under the ‘Insurance for All” concept. Even though the times are defining we will continue protecting our nation turning obstacles into opportunities.’ noted .Jagath Wellawatta, chairman of SLIC.

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Bank of Ceylon empowering nation with Lanka Q

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The Bank of Ceylon in its mission to assist the government initiative to empower Sri Lanka through digital technology is joining the customer awareness campaign of Central Bank of Sri Lanka’s Lanka QR digital platform.

Bank of Ceylon had its most recent major awareness programs in Borella and Maharagama along with the other branches in Colombo District in line with the Central Bank’s main program held in “Diyatha Uyana” with the participation of all Lanka QR certified banks on the same day.

Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) has organized a series of awareness and promotion campaigns for popularizing Lanka QR with the participation of all Lanka QR certified financial institutions throughout the country with the aim of speeding up the customer adaptation process towards digital banking.

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