The ceramics, tile and glass industry, worth Rs. 50 billion, urged the Government on Friday to address a host of longstanding issues impacting the sector, thereby enabling a greater contribution to socio-economic growth.
Speaking up collectively for the first time, the Sri Lanka Ceramics and Glass Council (SLCGC) members said that issues connected to the mining of raw material, the flood of cheaper and sub-standard products, more competitive furnace oil prices and incentives to promote more exports are critical to sustaining the industry, which employs 30,000 people directly and 50,000 indirectly.
The private sector has invested over Rs. 100 billion in expanding capacity and modernisation of this pioneering industry, but the lack of support and delay in resolution of problems despite recommendations made has seriously threatened its viability.
The industry’s annual turnover is over Rs. 50 billion and exports amount to Rs. 10 billion, as it adds value to a host of mineral resources such as quarts, silica sand, ball clay, kaolin, calcite, dolomite, feldspar and red clay, in order to make tableware, floor tiles, wall tiles, bathware, glass containers, red clay roofing tiles, terra cotta floor tiles, and earthenware and ornamental-ware.
The 300-strong SMEs engaged in red clay roofing tiles are disappointed that Government and donor-supported public housing schemes continue to use hazardous asbestos sheets.
They said there is enough capacity to supply environmental-friendly and cost-effective red clay roofing tiles, but their appeals continue to be ignored.
The ceramics and glass industry members said that apart from bureaucratic problems, issues in the mining and transport of raw materials add to the cost. This prompts sub-contracting, even amid sustainability concerns. The industry urged for proper consultation with the Council in reforming regulations. Exorbitant energy costs are another setback; they suggested the introduction of formula pricing for furnace oil linked to world crude oil prices. To deter the dumping of inferior products, the industry is calling for product registration regulations based on quality standards and an increase in cess on sanitary-ware and tiles.
Ceramics and glass industry calls for effective support to boost socio-economic growth