‘Building costs in SL higher than in regional countries’


‘Skills shortage is  one reason that sends building costs higher’

Surath Wickramasinghe

Head of Sri Lanka's Chamber of Construction Industry says building cost in the Island is higher than in some of the other Countries in the region and lacks a skilled work force.

"There are concerns among the investors and developers, that the construction cost in Sri Lanka is higher than in some of the other Asian Countries," Surath Wickramasinghe, President of Sri Lanka's Chamber of Construction Industry said while addressing the "Build SL 2015", recently.

"However, if the cost is to be reduced, the negative list issued by the Treasury to the BOI (Board of Investment), with a view to protecting the local manufacturers which is now in force, has to be revisited."

"The situation today is that some of the major items such as steel bars, ceramic ware, aluminium extrusions and carpets etc are cheaper in the Region,"

"In this context, if the CESS could be removed or reduced, for such materials only, then the building costs can proportionately be reduced, making our industry more competitive."

Another reason for construction costs to be high, Wickramasinghe says is the skills shortage in the sector.

"This has been caused by the skilled personnel leaving Sri Lanka for better prospects overseas and this is now a major problem facing the construction industry,"

"Unfortunately, the share of the young school leavers, joining the industry, is marginal, despite the opportunities in the industry being much more remunerative and challenging, working with new technology,"

"Several Government agencies are now training the young, but the demand is much more. The variety of jobs on offer is immense and the industry is looking for trainees from all parts of Sri Lanka, including the North and East."

Job training opportunities as fabricators, welders, crane operators, electricians, plumbers, masons, glaziers, refrigeration and air conditioning technicians are available, Wickramasinghe said.

Unfortunately, Wickramasinghe says these figures have now slightly declined and it is necessary to re-build the confidence among the stakeholders of the industry, by ensuring a continuity of work.

If so, we are confident that the acceleration will continue in the future, he said.

"Regarding procurement, one of the major constraints facing the construction industry, is due to not following the published procurement procedure by the executing agencies,"

This is applicable not only for the road projects, Wickramasinghe said but, also for other contracts.

"For example, the delay of the Northern expressway, under construction is reported to be due it not following a proper and appropriate procedure by the relevant Agency,'

"Therefore, the new Government in order to "fast track" the urgent Northern expressway project should re-constitute the procurement strategy to ensure the contractors' capabilities to undertake a project of this magnitude", he said.




Surath Wickramasinghe

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