President Maithripala Sirisena has given instructions to the relevant authorities to prepare a system to issue licenses to excavate sand and stones needed for the construction industry at one place.
The President has given these instructions participating in a meeting held at the Presidential Secretariat on Thursday regarding the challenges faced by the construction industry and the proposed solutions to these issues.The President, expressing his views on speculation that the Government has terminated the issuance of licenses to excavate sand and stones, said that it was a wrong interpretation. He said that the Government had taken several steps to prevent irregularities in excavating sand and stones by smugglers and some entrepreneurs and further said that there was no restriction imposed on excavating sand and stones needed for the construction industry from allocated places.
President Sirisena further said that a system would be implemented to issue licenses directly to the relevant institutions to excavate sand and stones needed for the construction industry without the intervention of a third party. Steps that should be taken to encourage and promote the local construction industry were discussed in detail. During the meeting, attention was drawn to the delay of payments to contractors and the uplifting of small-scale contractors through establishing a fund according to the provisions of the Construction Industry Development Act, conducting research related to the industry, introduction of environmental friendly, cost effective and efficient construction technology methods, and the introduction of social welfare securities systems for people in the construction industry such as pension schemes and long-term insurance.
The establishment of a task force for human resources development required to the construction industry was also discussed. The President instructed the relevant sections to continue existing programs to reduce the shortage of construction skilled workers. Special attention was paid to the immense environmental damage which occurs in excavating sand and stones for construction needs and to the promotion of utilising sea sand for construction activities, minimising the use of river sand, while ways of encouraging private investors to use sea sand were also discussed.
Providing opportunities for local construction industrialists in foreign investment projects and minimising participation of foreign construction companies in local construction projects were also discussed.
Minister of Housing and Construction Sajith Premadasa, Ministry of Housing and Construction Secretary Bernard Wasantha Silva, Construction Industry Development Authority Chairman Eng. M.R. Jeyachandran, State officials and representatives from private construction companies participated in this meeting.