Sustainable solid waste system soon for BEPZ, assures Malik | Sunday Observer

Sustainable solid waste system soon for BEPZ, assures Malik

Minister Malik Samarawickrama at the Lanka Harness factory
Minister Malik Samarawickrama at the Lanka Harness factory

The BOI organized an interactive meeting at the Biyagama Export Processing Zone (BEPZ) where the keynote speaker was Minister of Development Strategies and International Trade, Malik Samarawickrama. Associated with the Minister was BOI Board Members, Sagara Gunawardana, Mangala Yapa and Director General of the BOI, Duminda Ariyasinghe. Also present were senior officials of the BOI including Executive Director (Zones), M. K. D. Lawrance and Zone Director of the BEPZ, Athula Jayasinghe.

The BEPZ is a significant contributor to the national economy with an export value estimated at Rs. 134 b (US$ 849 m) and importing Rs. 58 b(US$ 368 m) worth of raw materials. Many leading enterprises are located at the BEPZ including Ansell, Trelleborg, De La Rue, MAS, Noyon and Stretchline.

One of the challenges that the Zone faces today is how to dispose of the solid waste in a sustainable way and steps are being taken to introduce a new system in June 2018.

Minister Malik Samarawickrama thanked the investors for their contribution especially in the area of employment and exports.

He stated that Sri Lanka’s target is to export $17.1 b worth of goods and services in 2018. While the FDI had reached US$1.9 b, the target for 2018 was US$2.1 b.

He appreciated the efforts of the BOI officials in making this possible and thanked the Chairman and Board members for the direction they had provided.

He said, “We have made efforts to change the mindset of the BOI officials.” Furthermore, the Minster said that in the last three years 3,000 workers had been hired at the BEPZ despite concerns about the difficulties in finding workers. The Minister said that the German Government will set up a new Technical Center in Matara to train youth in technical fields, so that they may contribute by working in industries. He also stated that such a center had already been developed by Germany at Killinochchi.

The Minister further added that the Government is keen to bringing in new technology and was taking steps to improve the ease of doing business. He added that by the end of this year all the reforms would be in place. Minister Samarawickrama also stated that the present Government’s Development Plan was focused on attracting FDI and also boosting the private sector. The Minister also spoke of the plan to set up three to four New Zones at Mirijjawila, Millenniya, (with Thai collaboration), Bingiriya in Kurunegala and Mawathagama. Furthermore, there would also be a possibility of a new Zone in Weligama.

He added that no new Zones had been built since 2002. Hence, this was a pressing need for the country. He concluded by appealing to the investors to bring more investors from their countries.

Duminda Ariyasinghe, Director General of the BOI told investors, “we are doing our best to meet your needs. We want to manage the Zone in a very dynamic way. We are private sector orientated and move fast”. The Director General also stated that a Screening Committee had been established to look at every issue and provide a solution. “Within 24 hours a solution is brought for issues. The BOI is now an evolving organisation. We are also focusing on re - investments and had a very successful visit to Switzerland and Italy to look at re - investment by enterprises.” Speaking on behalf of the Investors at the BEPZ, De La Rue Director and Head of Operations, Sri Lanka spoke of this Company’s experience as an investor in Sri Lanka. In 1984, De La Rue was registered in Sri Lanka as a BOI enterprise. Their first contract was to print 50 m rupees worth of bank notes for the Central Bank of Sri Lanka. Hydes said that now 88% of the production of bank notes by De La Rue is exported to countries in South America, Asia and Africa. Hydes further said that what BOI offers the investors is security, environmental support and paperwork and investor services and thanked the BOI for them.

The investors at the BEPZ shared some of their thoughts on their operation at the Zone. Timothy Speldewinde, CEO, Stretchline Holdings Limited stated, “We are very happy; we have been here for the last 22 years.

However, we would like to see the matter of solid waste also addressed by converting it to valuable energy.

Overall we have built over the years a relationship of trust with the BOI and BEPZ is a pleasant Zone to be based in.” Andrew Hydes added, “De La Rue is very happy with our relationship and look forward to future projects. The previous 30 years have been very successful and we look forward to the future.”

The Minister and officials are also met with the Zone workers, trade union representatives and thereafter visited two factories at BEPZ, North Manufacturing (Pvt) Ltd., and Lanka Harness (Pvt) Ltd.