Reuters - Sri Lanka's cabinet cleared a revised agreement for its Chinese-built southern port of Hambantota on Tuesday, the government said, after terms of the first pact sparked widespread public anger in the island nation.
The port, close to the world's busiest shipping lanes, has been mired in controversy ever since state-run China Merchants Port Holdings , which built it for $1.5 billion, signed an agreement taking an 80 percent stake.
Under the new deal, which Reuters has examined, the Sri Lankan government has sought to limit China's role to running commercial operations at the port while it has oversight of broader security.
Chinese control of Hambantota, which is part of its modern-day "Silk Route" across Asia and beyond, as well as a plan to acquire 15,000 acres (23 sq miles) to develop an industrial zone next door, had raised fears that it could also be used for Chinese naval vessels.
Sri Lanka’s fuel bill has been spiralling as of late. According to a recent Central Bank press release on the external sector performance, the petroleum purchases for the first four months of 2017 were estimated at US $ 1.2 billion. This represents a colossal 75 percent increase in the value of such imports, when compared to the tabulated estimates for the corresponding period last year.
This development is of great concern. Given Sri Lanka’s dependency on imported fuel for domestic consumption, the swings in the global non-renewable energy markets will have direct implications on the nation’s ability to reduce its trade deficit and sustain the growth prospects.
Today, the growth of Sri Lanka's construction industry has become a hot topic. The housing construction sector in particular has seen rapid growth due to the rise in housing demand as well as government incentives for new housing projects. As office space continues to plummet, skyscrapers and high-rises have begun to mushroom. With the country wide expansion of infrastructural development which includes the massive US$ 40 billion Megapolis development plan, the construction industry is heading for a revolutionary change.
In the construction industry, it is imperative to satisfy several key factors such as incorporating high quality raw material, cutting edge technology, skilled labour and a proper regulatory body, to constantly maintain highest quality and standard. Certain factions, engaged in importing and selling substandard cement, have ruined the faith placed by consumers. This has been further affected by the flaws found in standardization process of cement.
Cement, sand, metals and steel are key materials used in the construction sector. Even though the construction sector utilize several other materials, these four elements - cement, metals sand and steel that are used for producing concrete –solely ensure the strength and durability of a building.
Out of the above mentioned elements, cement is the only material produced inside a factory under special quality controlled means. Only a Cement manufacturing company, who has a 100% local manufacturing facility with fully integrated plant, can maintain consistent quality and standard throughout the process of cement production, this consistent quality cement will lay a strong footing to local Construction industry. If standardization techniques can be further developed parallel to the growth of the local construction sector, the consumers will be able to buy the finest quality cement. It is essential to spread awareness amongst those involved in the construction sector and the general public of the importance of using high quality cement instead of importing and distributing low priced substandard cement.