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We become importers or manufacturers depending on govt policy: industrialists



From left: SLCGC Vice President Aravinda Perera, SLCGC Vice President Mahendra Jayasekera, SLGCC president Anura Warnakulasooriya and SLCGC Member S.H.B. Karunaratne


SL Customs ‘text book’ not in line with President’s vision on Production Economy, they say

by Sanath Nanayakkare

A leading local ceramics products manufacturer and member of Sri Lanka Ceramics and Glass Council told the media recently that their members choose to become manufacturers or importers depending on the policy of the government of the day.

“If we find it more profitable to import and sell due to policy decisions, we import. If we see the policy environment in Sri Lanka is conducive to manufacturing locally, we manufacture. We interchange our roles according to policy framework of the government”, he said.

Member of Sri Lanka Ceramics and Glass Council S.H. B. Karunaratne whose company’s product range is exported to about 47 countries made these remarks while speaking at a press conference organised by the Council to voice a ‘major weakness’ in Sri Lanka Customs’ Valuation Book which ‘unfairly’ favours importers of ceramic bathware, glass ware and allied products making things hard for local manufacturers.

“We do believe in free trade which is a two-way street and we can successfully face competition offered by foreign products. But the current valuation for invoicing by Sri Lanka Customs is so skewed and heavily favours importers and doesn’t create a level playing for competent local manufacturers who have invested heavily in the industry. This is not fair and it needs to be rectified,” he said.

“President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s national policy framework of Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour has created a conducive environment for local production, therefore, we are encouraged to remain as manufacturers”.

“Some social media posts claim that only Rocell makes bathroom sets in Sri Lanka and they produce their goods for individuals of upper-income class and big projects. The truth is not only Rocell but Auto Bathware, RSL Ceramics, Hega, Embilipitiya Ceramics also make complete bathroom sets on a bigger scale and several other companies on a smaller scale. That’s why there was no scarcity of products despite the ban on imports.. Our manufacturers are not producing 100% of the local market requirement. But because of the government’s policy, we have planned to invest Rs.2-3 billion in the near term. With these investments our 60% local production would increase to100% and we will be self-sufficient in ceramic products in two years. And we have our own transparent pricing system to make sure local consumers have access to local products of good quality at affordable prices according to their choice”.

“The main issue that discourages potential manufacturers and existing national manufacturers is that the Customs valuation book value for imported items is at a low and unrealistic rate. To import a complete set of ceramic bathware which weighs 65kgs and includes a commode, tank, basin, pedestal, seat cover and water fitting, the book value for invoicing stands at US$35.00 or Rs.6,350. This is an unrealistic amount as a complete set of ceramic bathware cannot be manufactured at such a low cost, because to purchase the seat cover and water fitting alone it costs Rs. 3,500”.

Suggesting a solution to the issue he said,” This issue can be corrected by amending the Custom’s ‘text book’ value to US$100. Once this is amended local manufacturers will be able to compete with imports and it will also prevent cheap inferior quality items being dumped in our country. And this will also help to stop the huge outflow of foreign exchange.

“Once this book value is amended to $100, the importers and local manufactures will have to compete on a level playing field, and this will in turn benefit the consumer as they can get a competitive price”.

When asked if their members have voiced their concern with the authorities on the ‘unfair’ valuation method by Sri Lanka Customs, Karunaratne said that they would be meeting Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa to discuss the matter at an upcoming meeting.

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Dulux colours Architect 2023 exhibition with vibrant and engaging presence



Dulux -Sri Lanka’s, a leading manufacturer of paints and coatings – is celebrating the successful close of its participation at Architect 2023, also taking home an award for the ‘Best Trade Stall with Innovative Use of Colour’.

Organised by the Sri Lanka Institute of Architects -and now in its 41st year- this year’s edition of the Architect 2023 annual trade fair took place from February 24-26 at the BMICH, and witnessed greater participation from leading companies and entrepreneurs actively involved in the various construction and architecture sectors; both locally and internationally, a company news release said.

“Dulux established a strong presence at the event with a spectacular exhibit themed Colour Futures ’23, featuring its 2023 Colour of the Year: Wild Wonder. Visitors to the stand were able to explore the four colour palettes, Lush, Buzz, Raw and Flow, inspired by the nature-influenced theme, with Dulux colour experts on hand providing unique trade insight, and also advising visitors on how best the shades can be implemented into their own work and living spaces,” it said.

“The popular mascot, “Dulux Dog” was also present to playfully engage with exhibition attendees and brighten up the vibrant Dulux stall even further. The Dulux exhibit proved widely popular among attendees to Architect 2023, due to its powerful display of colour in both interior & Exterior spaces. “

“Architect 2023 was a great opportunity for Dulux to learn from fellow trade professionals, and also to introduce visitors to the latest trends and insights from the global paints and coatings landscape,” said Upendra Gunawardhana, Head of Marketing at AkzoNobel Paints Sri Lanka. “We’ve maintained a strong long-standing relationship with the SLIA, and have every intention of being back again next year as well.”

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ACCA reaffirms ComBank as Best among Sri Lankan banks for Sustainable Reporting



Commercial Bank’s Chief Operating Officer Mr S. Prabagar (third from left) receives the ACCA award. The Bank’s Deputy General Manager – Retail Banking & Marketing Mr Hasrath Munasinghe (second from right) and Senior Manager – Sustainability, Women’s Banking & CSR Mrs Kamalini Ellawala (extreme right) are also in the picture

The Commercial Bank of Ceylon was declared the best among all Sri Lankan banks in sustainability reporting at the Sri Lanka Sustainability Reporting Awards for 2022 presented by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) Sri Lanka.

As the winner in the ‘Banking’ category Commercial Bank was recognised for being one of the most transparent, accountable, and responsible entities in the country. The award was presented for the Bank’s 2021 Annual Report titled ‘Beyond a shape, beyond a colour’ which among other aspects, explores the Bank’s evolving operating context in which social and environmental concerns are brought to the centre of its corporate agenda.

Prepared in line with the International <IR> framework, this Annual Report also presents the Bank’s social and environmental impacts as per the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) standards: Core option. Additionally, it reports on the Bank’s contribution towards the UNDP Sustainable Development Goals.

The Report also features a dedicated section on ‘Business model for sustainable value creation’ and discloses information on loans screened through the Bank’s Social and Environmental Management System (SEMS), paper reduction and recycling initiatives, increased usage of renewable energy, and switching to energy-efficient appliances under the section on ‘Natural Capital.’ Indicators of value derived in this category include reduced energy consumption in gigajoules, number of facilities subjected to SEMS screening, number of new solar panel installation locations, number of internet banking and mobile banking users, and solar power generated as a percentage of energy consumption.

Commercial Bank’s high standards in comprehensive reporting area result of the Bank’s commitment to being a responsible financial entity and shaping its work ethics around sustainable business practices, the Bank said. Last year too, Commercial Bank topped the ACCA awards in the Banking category, in addition to winning the overall award for the Best Sustainability Report of 2020.

Notably, Commercial Bank’s 2021 Annual Report also won four awards including a Gold for ‘Interior Design,’ and a Bronze for ‘Interactive Annual Report’ at the 2022 edition of the MerComm ARC Awards which is the world’s largest annual report competition.

The Bank’s sustainability initiatives include lending to support sustainable and green operations, migrating customers to paperless banking, improving efficiency in the use of energy, water and other resources in its own operations and supporting community initiatives that help conserve habitats and the environment. Its support to a mangrove restoration project in Koggala and marine turtle conservation initiative in Panama are examples of its commitment to environmental conservation.

The Bank pioneered a mandatory social and environmental screening process for its project lending activities and was the first bank in Sri Lanka to venture into Green Financing. It also revolutionised digital banking by introducing features in its ‘Flash’ mobile application to measure and offset customer impact on the environment.

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Ex-Pack Corrugated Cartons PLC prioritizes psychological wellbeing in view of Women’s Day



Seen here are a few women at Ex-Pack cutting the cake

In view of the marking the International Women’s Day, Ex-Pack Corrugated Cartons PLC held an insightful event at their state-of-the-art factory premises in Kelaniya, highlighting the importance of psychological wellbeing and how Ex-Pack is taking up measures in ensuring an enabling environment for its 300 strong workforce, based on its wider DEI policies.

Various global studies have shown that women are impacted at much higher rates than men when it comes to mental illnesses. The session celebrated their achievements and life stories, and shared some eye-opening tips, facts, know how’s, to-dos, and various other influential factors including the dire need to change our perspectives on women’s roles, health and wellness. This also touched upon the emotional and social aspects of wellbeing too.

This year’s theme is centered on #EmbraceEquity, and Ex-Pack is no stranger when it comes to pursuing gender equality in an industry that has been traditionally dominated by male. As one of leading corrugated cartons manufacturer in Sri Lanka delivering end-to-end packaging solutions to both local and international clientele, and a subsidiary of Aberdeen Holdings (Pvt) Ltd, Ex-Pack actively encourages more female participation.

‘With this year’s theme being #EmbraceEquity, we take great pride in being an ambassador and role model in our industry. We go beyond just equal opportunities to pro-actively collaborate with everyone, to ensure that our talented women have every possible resource at their disposal and are given all the required support to succeed both professionally and personally,’ said M. Zulficar Ghouse, Managing Director- Ex-Pack Corrugated Cartons PLC

Ex-Pack has long been engaged with providing equal career opportunities, and both men and women

are respected, rewarded and compensated equally. The company also has an open-door policy for all employees. Women empowerment stems directly from the top leadership, recognizing that women and their strengths are crucial to both the company and the overall economy.

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