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Government settles Rs. 200 bn debt to construction contractors

July 02, Colombo (LNW): The Government has successfully settled an outstanding debt of Rs. 200 billion owed to construction contractors, Urban Development and Housing Minister Prasanna Ranatunga announced yesterday (02).

This debt had accrued due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the ensuing economic crisis.

Ranatunga highlighted that the Government is now addressing unpaid bills for several contractors, which had previously been delayed due to technical issues.

The construction industry accounts for approximately 8 to 9 per cent of Sri Lanka’s Gross National Product, employing about 20 per cent of the population.

Following directives from the President, five committees comprising government officials, industry experts, and contractors were established to revitalise the construction sector, which had suffered greatly due to the pandemic and economic downturn.

These committees proposed around 50 measures to rebuild the construction industry.

The Government has prioritised 14 areas for immediate enhancement. Minister Ranatunga also stated that a new policy to promote the construction sector is being developed and has been presented to the Cabinet of Ministers.

Furthermore, registration for construction contractors has commenced without late fees.

In response to a request from the National Construction Association, small and medium contractors (C4-C9) who were unable to register before 2020 will now have the opportunity to re-register for three years.

The Construction Industry Development Authority (CIDA) has waived late fees for these contractors, simplifying the registration process.

In addition, CIDA has facilitated NVQ certification for approximately 7,000 construction workers in trades such as masonry, carpentry, plumbing, and tiling over the past five years, at a cost of Rs. 485 million.

The programme for issuing ID cards to skilled craftsmen with NVQ qualifications across 26 craft categories is ongoing, with around 300 ID cards issued so far.

CIDA also reported that 1,386 construction machine operators have been trained at the Anuradhapura, Galkulama Construction Machinery Operators’ Training College, and 814 at the Battaramulla, Pelawatta Construction Machinery Training Centre over the last five years.

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