By Shezna Shums
The delay in getting the SLS certification for 100,000 bags of 50kg cement is delaying its distribution into the market.
A total of 100,000 bags of 50 kg cement are still in the ports, said National Cooperative Council Chairman Bandu Ranawaka.
The National Cooperative Council was expecting to distribute this cement to the local market yesterday (8 August), however owing to the delay in the SLS certificate, it is still stuck in the port.
It was reported that the Sri Lanka Standards Institute was dragging its feet in issuing this SLS certificate and Ranawaka noted that they have given in all the documents and fees for the SLS certificate.
The consignment of 100,000 bags of cement were imported from Pakistan to meet the shortage in the local market, however delays in releasing this cement were causing more problems to the public.
The cement, which is to be sold under the name of ‘Co-op’ cement, is to be priced at a wholesale rate of Rs. 630 for a 50 kg bag.
It had been reported that the officials at the Sri Lanka Standards Institute were dragging their feet, although approval for the SLS certificate for these 100,000 bags had been in process for the last six months.
It had further been highlighted that a private company that imported the cement also from Pakistan had managed to have its stocks of cement released from the port and there was speculation whether there were certain parties trying to create an artificial cement shortage in the market.
Ranawaka had noted that the release of these 100,000 bags of cement would ease the current cement shortage in the market.
Minister of Economic Development Basil Rajapaksa had stated that within two years the Government would gradually stop the importation of certain essential items.
It was noted that dried chillies, onions, green gram and certain pulses that were being imported would be gradually stopped and that by the end of two years, there would be a complete cessation of these imports into the local market.
This move is being considered to improve the local farmers’ cultivations and to strengthen their industry as well as to make the country self sufficient when it comes to cultivating these foods, stated Minister Basil Rajapaksa during the National Farmers’ Week, which was held in Vavuniya last month.
Meanwhile, sources at the Ministry of Internal Trade and Cooperatives noted that as long as there was a demand that needed to be filled and the local suppliers could not meet this demand, there would have to be imports of such essential items.
The imports of essential items cannot be stopped immediately, stated Minister Basil Rajapaksa.