President puts on hold questionable tyre production venture

President Maithripala Sirisena has directed cabinet of ministers to put on hold Radial Tyre plant project at Wagawatte, Horana until the return of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe from Switzerland where he was attending the World Economic Forum, well informed sources told The Island yesterday.

President Sirisena has intervened in the wake of Italian giant Marangoni denying investing US$ 75 million (Rs 11 billion) in a proposed Tyre manufacturing plant under the Board of Investment (BOI) and distancing itself from the project. Recently Premier Wickremesinghe laid the foundation stone for the project.

According to the BOI, the investment was to be made within four years and the new enterprise granted a range of concessions in line with recommendations made by Minister of Development Strategies and International Trade Malik Samarawickrema. Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake, too, has recommended an eight year tax holiday.

Sources said that the BOI had received an application on March 28, 2016 to set up the operation on the basis 60 per cent of its output for export market and the rest to be sold here. The investor has received 100 acre land within Wagawatte Industrial Zone on a 99 year lease under controversial circumstances (SF)

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