Govt. takes a crack at making small beautiful

Friday, 8 October 2010 00:13 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

186 shops to be built for pavement hawkers in Nugegoda while scrap metal exports halted to help SMEs

By Uditha Jayasinghe

Small businesses seem to have grabbed the attention of the Cabinet this week, with decisions revolving on assisting pavement vendors and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) being taken.

Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella told the weekly Cabinet press briefing that the President had advocated the decision to ban all exports of scrap metal from Sri Lanka for six months to assist SMEs engaged in souvenir making, particularly brass carvers.


“It has been found that valuable scrap metal is being collected by companies or informal groups of people and exported in bulk and this is depriving many craftsmen and industries of raw material. Therefore President Rajapaksa presented a Cabinet paper to abolish these exports for six months. At the end of this period there will be a review to evaluate whether this step has been of any assistance to the industry,” he said.

In particular, attention has been given to souvenir makers to provide an incentive to the tourism industry, which is expected to grow exponentially this year.  

The “crafty” exports, according to the Minister, would find a loophole if the Government merely permitted exports after value additions.

“Some of these exporters melt the metal into balls and pass them off as paper weights. Once they reach another country, they are made into other products,” he explained, adding that this was the reason behind the outright ban.

State institutions in particular will be encouraged under this Cabinet decision to channel their scrap metal supplies to industries that use copper, brass, bronze, aluminium, lead and special iron, including cast iron.

Meanwhile, Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa has presented a Cabinet Paper requesting the approval of Rs. 18 million to build a new town centre to house pavement vendors dispossessed of their business after clearance by the Urban Development Authority (UDA).

The first one is to be made in Nugegoda and others will subsequently spring up in major cities around the country.

Land belonging to the Kotte Municipal Council has been identified within the Nugegoda town to construct 186 shops initially to be provided to the pavement hawkers. The maintenance of the shops will be entrusted to the Kotte Municipal Council and the contract for construction will be awarded to the Central Engineering Consultancy Bureau.