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Work on SL’s largest tyre plant gets rolling


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53Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe sharing a light moment with Ceylon Steel Corporation Chairman Nandana Lokuwithana (second from right) – Pic by Daminda Harsha Perera 

  • Rs. 11.25 b Rigid Tyre plant 
  • to cater to 3,000 employment 
  • opportunities, exports 75% of its 
  • production European market
  • Plant will also have several 
  • divisions to boost value added 
  • rubber products
  • PM highlights industrialisation, tourism, science and technology & ICT as priority sectors to accelerate economic growth
  • Says Govt. to sign 3-4 agreements on H’tota Port, assures transparency
  • Wickremesinghe confident 
  • of Unity Govt. remaining intact 
  • until 2020
  • Plantation Industries Minister says Rubber Master Plan of $ 5 b achievable

By Charumini de Silva

Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday officially kicked off construction work on what will be the country’s largest fully-integrated tyre manufacturing facility, the Rigid Tyre Corporation Ltd. plant, with its foundation stone-laying ceremony held at the BOI Industrial Zone in Wagawatte, Horana. 

The project is being carried out with a whopping investment of Rs. 11.25 billion which will open a new page in Sri Lanka’s industrial sector.

The venture is fully-funded by UAE-based Sri Lankan businessman and Ceylon Steel Group Chairman Nandana Lokuwithana with an objective to abide by the Government’s development strategy in garnering advanced technology and creating over 3,000 direct and indirect jobs of world standing in making a future where all Sri Lankans will prosper. The technical collaborator of the project is Marangoni of Italy, which is famed for its superior tyres. Therefore all Rigid Tyre products will carry the tag ‘Licensed by Marangoni’.

Being the first of its kind in the country, the facility is commissioned to manufacture a range of tyres including passenger car radials, bus and truck radials, three wheel and two wheel tyres as well as off-road tyres, with plans to export over 75% of its production to the European market. 

The 100-acre land will not only be the largest fully-integrated tyre plant but it will be a megacity for the tyre industry. Besides the manufacture of tyres, the plant will house several other separate divisions for enhancing the value addition of the rubber industry such as the manufacture of high density conveyor belts aimed at the mining industry and the manufacture of high-pressure hydraulic pipes to cater to the high demand for these at oilfields. 

Speaking at the event, Prime Minister Wickremesinghe said industrialisation, tourism development, science and technology and ICT had been identified as priority sectors to accelerate economic growth by providing adequate employment opportunities for the youth so that they can attain a better income status.

“We need to make quick decisions to cater to investments, make regulations, provide concessions, provide suitable land and improve the education system to provide employment opportunities for our youth. Such high-calibre employment generation is what the country needs right now for accelerated growth with social inclusion,” he added.

He acknowledged that the Rigid Tyre plant was initiated with far-reaching benefits for the country in terms of the economy, foreign exchange, employment for skilled labour or professional development and value added product manufacturing as well as to reach out to investors the world over and beckon them to Sri Lanka as an investor-friendly nation.

Noting that 95% of the land in the country was owned by the Government, Wickremesinghe stressed that they had identified land in various parts of the island which was viable for future investment.

He also emphasised that Sri Lanka was the only country that was a gateway to major developed markets like China, India and Europe, adding that regaining GSP+ would be a roll-over prize for exporters and to the country to generate much-needed foreign exchange.

The Premier also revealed that the Government was due to sign three to four agreements on the Hambantota Port assuring that they were working with transparency and none of these was a site of religious worship or classified as an archaeological site.

“Once these agreements are signed, Development Strategies and International Trade Minister Malik Samarawickrama will make a statement in Parliament and it will be tabled in the House. We are working with transparency,” he noted.

Wickremesinghe said that the Government had created over 20,000 employment opportunities within a week, terming it a “record”.

Stating that it was not an easy task to manage a Government comprising the country’s two main political parties, the Premier said the Unity Government would lead the country without any dispute until 2020.

Plantation Industries Minister Navin Dissanayake said that the Rubber Master Plan, which sought to reel in $ 5 billion within the next five years, was achievable and described the Rigid Tyre plant as a major fillip to the industry.

He gave reassurances that the Government would do its utmost to support the rubber industry to become a major competitor in South Asia and Southeast Asia.

The foundation stone-laying ceremony was attended by over 1,500 invitees, including Development Strategies and International Trade Minister Malik Samarawickrama, Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake, Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Minister Mahinda Amaraweera, Skills Development and Vocational Training Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe, Science, Technology and Research Minister Susil Premajayantha, Urban Development, Water Supply, Drainage Minister Rauff Hakeem, BOI Chairman Upul Jayasuriya, ministerial secretaries and Government officials.

 


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