Ceramics and glass want level playing field

The Sri Lanka Ceramics and Glass Council has urged the Government to provide them a level playing field to both compete with low-quality imports, mainly from India and China, as well as to boost its export performance.

The Sri Lanka Ceramics and Glass Council President and Piramal Glass Ceylon PLC Managing Director and CEO Sanjay Tiwari particularly requested an increase in CESS.

“Decrease of CESS on sanitaryware and tiles has affected the domestic manufacturers who have set up big infrastructure and a base to produce sanitaryware and tiles and currently all the companies want to expand and grow because when it comes to cost, it can be reduced because it increases volumes in certain products,” he said addressing a press conference.

Royal Ceramics Lanka PLC MD Aravinda Perera, a board member of the Ceramics and Glass Council, noted that the quality of the local products are exceptional in spite of challenges.

“We export to India. We export to China. India has a capacity of 14,000 tonnes per day where as we have just 3,000 tonnes a day, but still we export 50 containers a month because we use federal quality glass which is not available there, and that is the reason we are able to succeed. We will not be able to export to India and the US if we are not competitive. What we are requesting from the Government is to provide us a level playing field. Let us be competitive.”

Tiwari also highlighted the contribution of the industries to the national economy.

“The annual turnover of the collective ceramic council crosses Rs. 50 billion with export over Rs. 10 billion. Investment is collectively over Rs. 100 billion so far and there are many more in the pipeline. There is direct employment and indirect employment. I am a little concerned about indirect employment because many people and industries are dependent on our segment. Indirect employment is over 50,000 and direct employment is 30,000 people.”

The Council noted that over 50% of Sri Lanka’s tile requirement was serviced through imports and that if the Government was providing them the support that it was requesting, the companies would be ready to invest, instead of going to Gujarat and other places to invest.

The Council also noted that there had been no price increase for probably the past four years, even though the costs had gone up. It noted that every year, it had given salary increases to its employees, while transport costs had gone up, absorbing costs rather than increasing the prices.

Tiwari went on to say that there should be stringent standards for imports to avoid dumping.
“How many companies export to China? How many companies export to UK? You have to register your products. There are a lot of stringent quality regulations for product registrations. We are only asking why we do not have regulations that would be an indirect support to the industry in order to deliver good quality products. The cheap quality products are dumped in the country because we do not have regulations to control the imports. These big countries can dump anything in our country.”