Halting construction projects places 500, 000 jobs at risk - Dr. Karunaratne | Daily News

Halting construction projects places 500, 000 jobs at risk - Dr. Karunaratne

The ceasing of construction projects has put the jobs of around 500,000 people, engaged in the construction industry at risk, says Dr. Rohan Karunaratne, President of Ceylon Institute of Builders

Speaking at the OPA Annual General Meeting Dr. Karunaratne explained the consequences of stopping construction.

He exposed the dangers of ceasing construction projects in Sri Lanka and conveyed his disappointment about people being unaware of the importance of construction industry, one of the largest GDP contributors to our economy. With the potential of contributing over Rs 300 billion to GDP (almost 10%) and over one million people being involved in the industry.

He said all layers of society are left devastated when projects cease, therefore the construction industry requests government support to restart important and necessary projects in the country (instead of awarding projects to construct pointless or avoidable buildings/structures) with good governance and a transparent procurement system. This reduces the amount of money spent on construction and keeps the workforce of Sri Lanka and all the communities it supports alive, preventing massive and insurmountable social fallout.

Over 5,000 contractors are in trouble, struggling to settle the OD amounts to their banks. Almost all the companies are using bank funds to complete construction projects as the government has stopped almost all the projects without settling their bills. Government debt to contractors is around 150 billion.

An enormous portion of banks’ NPA around Rs. 200 billion is made up of the construction industry. NPA from the construction industry to the bank and other financial institutes are around 200 billion. Without considering these facts the government has stopped projects without resolving bills.

The construction supply chain is very lengthy and consists of around 4,000 SME sector companies, SMEs being the backbone of the economy. Each link in the supply chain, all the way up to the contractors are severely harmed by the sudden stoppage of the project, he said.

Obstructing the construction industry has a detrimental effect on the economy and social systems, given that it nurtures and takes care of 3 hierarchical layers of people. The top layer is made up of top construction companies which strongly support the nation economically and socially.

The construction industry employs hundreds of thousands of people and provides them with all necessary benefits to them and their families as well as supporting their community by ventures like CSR programs like the construction of hospitals, community centres to uplift social lives of people. Their families are well off.

The second layer includes technical officers, supervisors, QS, draftsmen etc. They too are given a substantive amount of social and financial benefits by the Construction Industry. Third layer is very important. It includes skills and non-skilled workforce. These are some of the poorest people in the country. (IH)

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