05 Aug, 2013 10:08:45
Aug 05, 2013 (LBO) - Sri Lanka's ceramics industry has found new clay deposits but strict state regulations is making it difficult to source raw materials, an industry official said.
"We focused a lot on finding suitable raw material deposits," Mahendra Jayasekera head of the Sri Lanka Ceramics Council, an industry body said.
"We have found commercially viable deposits. These deposits if commercially viable would last at least for the next 30 - 40 years."
The survey to find kaolin and ball clay was jointly funded by the ceramics industry and the ministry of industries, he said.
Jayasekera said there were very strict regulations which were "archaic and impractical" governing raw material extractions.
"We have been asking government to relax them, with enough safeguards to protect environment," he said.
He said state regulatory agencies were amenable to some of the suggestions and the industry was working with them.
The industry was also facing high energy costs and shortages of labour, with some migrating.
About 40 percent of the cost of production is energy, Jayasekera said.
The industry has responded with raising import taxes, riding on wave of economic nationalism in recent years, pushing up building costs of not just tiles, but also toilet fittings of Sri Lankan trying to build homes and curbing their liberties.
Analysts point out that protectionism help large industrialists by putting cheaper goods out of reach of the least affluent sections of society, with the help of the coercive power of the state.
Large luxury apartment blocks being in Sri Lanka and hotel rooms serving more affluent foreigners on the other hand are entitled to duty free imports which critics say is another classic outcome of state intervention.
In Sri Lanka taxes are raised by mid night gazette while consumers are sleeping.
Exports of ceramics have been stagnant in recent years.