Sri Lanka anticipates 80% self-sufficiency in ceramics while imposing import restrictions and import substitution, Minister of Industries Wimal Weerawansa said recently.
“Not only in tile and ceramics, but a lot of businesses had to face hardships with the introduction of import restrictions due to the devaluation of the rupee and dwindling of foreign reserves. As such, the Government will not turn back on its policy of import substitution and encouraging local manufacturing,” Weerawansa said at the laying of the foundation stone of a ceramic manufacturing plant in Baduraliya.
Due to the fallout of the Covid-19 global pandemic, in March 2020, the Government introduced import restrictions on non-essential goods as foreign reserves showed signs of dwindling, which was extended to include all import items except pharmaceuticals and fuel on 1 April 2020.
On 2 February this year, the Government issued a gazette notification relaxing the import restrictions on selected tiles and ceramic products only on a minimum 180-day credit facility provided by the foreign supplier.
However, the Import and Export Control Department on 3 February reversed this policy by issuing new operating instructions for Sri Lanka Customs and all commercial banks to suspend the implementation of Regulations No. 3 and 4 of Gazette Extraordinary No. 2213/8 dated 2 February 2021, in terms of the Imports and Exports Control Act No. 1 of 1969 read with Regulation No. 17 of Gazette Extraordinary No. 2184/21 dated 16 July 2020.
According to the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL), ceramic exports in 2019 which amounted to $ 30 million plummeted to $ 24 million in 2020.
The laying of the foundation stone at the Baduraliya ceramic manufacturing plant, TPS Ceramic Industries (Pvt.) Ltd., the most recent entity to join Sri Lanka’s largest ultra-modern sanitaryware and ceramic trading company and distributor (Puwakaramba Group of Companies [PGC]), took place last Thursday (16).
Located in the PGC Factory Complex situated in a picturesque corner of the Kalutara District, TPS Ceramic Industries aims to become a formidable player and join other local players in order to nearly double the domestic ceramic production from its current 40% to 75-80% of the total consumption needed for Sri Lanka, in the near future, in line with the vision of the Government to encourage import substitution.
TPS Ceramic Industries’ Baduraliya plant looks to kick start its manufacturing process of three ceramic and sanitaryware product lines by the end of 2022, and thereafter increase to 12 product lines in the upcoming years. The main objectives of the Baduraliya plant are to contribute positively to the country’s economy as well as assist in cushioning the excessive pressure on Sri Lanka’s balance of payment and foreign reserves through import substitution and employment generation.
PGC Founder and Chairman Deshamanya Dr. Laksiri Peiris, while addressing the gathering, noted: “Puwakaramba Agencies, which started as a small retail hardware shop on 7 November 1985 with just two employees, has now grown to over 500 employees and has a dealer network of over 5,012. The group has given birth to numerous subsidiaries, namely Puwakaramba Agencies, TPS International, PGC Marketing, Metro Auto Mart, Silkway Cargo, Elegant Homes, and PA Manufacturers. We created history in 2016 by establishing the largest warehouse capacity in Sri Lanka, and today, yet again, we are laying the foundation for one of the largest manufacturing operations in Sri Lanka as far as the construction industry is concerned.”
PGC’s new factory complex in Baduraliya, declared opened by Dr. Laksiri Peiris on 30 August 2021, kicked off the commencement of the production of 100% locally manufactured products widely used in the construction field such as ceiling grids, PVC ceiling panels, G.I. tubes, C-purlins, and C-channels. Spread across a 30-acre land, these premises possess ample opportunity for vast expansions and future additions to its product portfolio.
Prior to import restrictions, PGC handled a staggering import capacity of 475-500 containers per month, a vehicle fleet of over 85, and a combined warehouse capacity of 356,000 sq. ft.