Kantale sugar factory to reopen next year

By Maheesha Mudugamuwa

 The government would reopen the Kantale sugar factory next year, Sugar Industry Development Minister Lakshman Seneviratne revealed during a discussion with Pakistan Industries and Production Minister Ghulam Murtaza Jatoi at the ministry recently.

Minister Seneviratne said that all steps had been taken to reopen the sugar factory next year as the tenders had already been called from investors and the proposal had been sent to the Cabinet.

According to Minister Seneviratne, privatisation had adversely affected the factory. The inefficient management and labour issues had led to the closure of the factory. LTTE activities in the area had also affected its operations, the minister said.  

The factory was supplying quality sugar to the market for more than three decades from 1960. During the first and second decades, since inception, the factory was running profitably. From 1980 to 1986, the factory earned a Rs. 70 million in profit.

However, a former employee of Kantale sugar factory said that following a conflict between the administration and employees due to the privatisation of the company in 1994, the facility had been closed with no production whatsoever taking place.  

From 1960 to 1994 it was under government control. In 1994 it was handed over to a private entrepreneur. The resultant employees’ protests had caused the factory to be closed for nineteen years. About 4,000 people, 2,000 permanent and 2,000 non-permanent employees, had working in the factory and rogues had made off with about 50 percent of the factory’s assets, the minister said.   

Meanwhile, Minister Seneviratne said that re-opening of Kantale sugar factory could save foreign exchange as the government spent 60,000 million rupees to import sugar annually.

He added that the Pakistani government would support Sri Lanka to establish a new sugar factory. 

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