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ICTAD an Authority soon

The long awaited decree to convert the Institute for Construction Training and Development - ICTAD into an authority has been completed by the legal draughtsman. It will be presented to the Attorney General and then to Parliament, Additional Secretary to the Ministry of Housing and Construction, S.R Kannaganayagam, told the media.

When implemented, the succeeding Construction Industry Authority will have the authorisation to promote the growth and effectiveness of the domestic construction industry.

The construction industry has played a major role in the Sri Lankan economy and social development, Kannaganayagam said. Its contribution to the GDP had been around 6-7 percent and annual growth rate around 7 percent.

The construction industry accounts for more than 50 percent of the Gross Domestic Capital Formation (GDCF) of the country. It contributes to about 6 percent of total employment.

The direct employment of this sector is about 400,000 and indirect employment approximately 25,000, while it is estimated that 700,000 people are engaged in construction and related fields, he said.

There is a severe shortage in human resource at skilled and technical level in this industry and various factors contribute to it. To attract more people into this industry, it is necessary to develop a more comfortable and socially accepted environment for people engaged in the industry.

It is necessary to introduce more mechanised and automated technology and equipment into the industry. Such inputs, besides attracting more people into the industry, will also improve the productivity, quality and timely completion and delivery of the finished construction, Kannaganayagam said.

Among other constraints faced by the construction sector is the lack of funds to purchase the basic construction equipment and the lack of a means of raising the working capital needed from time to time to meet the working progress of construction at hand.

There is also slow progress in public investment while there is competition from overseas construction companies, Kannaganayagam said.

The Mahinda Chinthanaya has pledged to counter these drawbacks, with the implementation of special programs.

Priority will be given to domestic construction companies to participate in infrastructure projects. Local constructors will be afforded a loan scheme to obtain finances needed and for the purchase of construction equipment. For this, the proposed Lankaputhra Bank will provide a construction guarantee fund. Vocational skills will be improved and with it, more people will find gainful employment, Kannaganayagam said.

To offset the shortage of sand, metal and timber, environment friendly material and technology will be introduced.

With a boom in construction visible, employees in the public sector will have access to a housing loan scheme with very low interest rates. Persons engaged in foreign employment will be given a special housing loan with the added contribution of 30 percent by government, through a mechanism which will be introduced.

Under the "Janasevana" program, 100,000 plots of land will be allocated to construct houses.

A large scale condominium housing scheme will be implemented in Colombo of which four large scale residential housing condominiums will commence soon in Colombo and Kandy.

A special housing scheme has been launched in selected grama sevaka divisions throughout the country. Less expensive condominium houses will be built for middle class citizens, Kannaganayagam said.

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