- Wants Govt. to resolve issue by easing import restrictions
- Says public and small contractors cannot suffer under the guise of promoting local industries
- Concerned over quadrupling of prices, beyond what many can afford
- Warns unless problem addressed importers and local producers will clash
CIOB President Dr. Rohan Karunarathne
The Ceylon Institute of Builders (CIOB) recently said that small and medium scale contractors and the public building their houses have been hit hard by increasing prices of tiles and bathroom sets, appealing to the Government to resolve the issue.
CIOB President Dr. Rohan Karunaratne acknowledged that the Government restricted the import of tiles and bathroom sets due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, he voiced concern over the steep increase in prices that has left many contractors and people unable to afford the massive increase in cost.
“Our major problem is the price increase. The SME sector and ordinary house builders need a tile range at a reasonable price. Now the problem is not only the scarcity but the price. Imported tiles and bathroom sets in the local market began to run out of stock and their prices increased.”
He pointed out that sanitary ware is hit worst, as previously the low-income group was able to buy a set within a Rs. 7,000 to Rs. 15,000 range, but this has now increased to about Rs. 50,000. Many SME sector contractors are affected by the lack of required materials and the high price, Dr. Karunaratne said.
“At present there are five manufacturers of locally-made tile and bathroom sets in our country. Their total annual production capacity is 17 million sq. ft. and with private sector work we require 23 million sq. ft. With the shortage of imported tiles and bathroom sets in the market and the increase in their prices, the prices of local products also increased. Although the Government tells consumers to buy these products at lower prices from local manufacturers, it is not practical. If local manufacturers increase production capacity, prices will not go down and that is the truth of the situation.”
The CIOB President also said his organisation has no objection to the development of local industries in this sector but they do not agree that the public and construction contractors should be subjected to severe pressure due to these industries maintaining a monopoly in the market under the guise of supporting local producers.
“This monopoly should be stopped immediately. Though we encourage local manufacturers, low-income people need better prices too. On the other hand, luxury projects need designer tiles. The construction industry is totally disturbed with lack of these materials. Therefore, as a short-term solution to this problem, we propose that the Government remove the existing import restrictions.”
“We suggest a long-term proposal to set up a system for the general public to purchase tile and bathroom sets at reasonable prices. Everyone in the construction industry and especially the SME sector contractors are the people who supported this Government to be in power. Therefore, we should be given special attention. It is these two parties that suffer the most from this problem. Unless a speedy solution is initiated, the two sides will be at odds with the Government.”