is not unfair to say that recently the construction sector
Economy of Sri Lanka has faced a severe and unprecedented
downfall. Reasons for this are of course manifold. The world
was undeniably heading for a recession and the events of the
September 11th in USA have made it a nightmare for the world
economy. Sri Lankan economy has been on a slippery road for
the past decade or so emanating from the extra-ordinary expenditure
of war efforts, loss of preparedness to harness the benefits
of the open economy and globalisation and indeed, the general
sense of hopelessness that has gripped the Nation in an alarming
atmosphere of growing corruption, petty politics and misguided
economic policies and misadventures. We may debate these issues
but whatever the reasons behind the downfall are, the outcome
is clear and visible all around us. As the professionals in
the construction industry will confirm, large numbers of employees
in all levels of the construction sector from the architects'
offices, contractors' firms, Valuers and quantity surveyors
offices all have been laid-off and continue to erode the work
force employed within the construction sector. Clients have
begun to scratch the bottoms of their pockets and have postponed
paying for the services already done and dare not commission
any more new work. No doubt, the machineries idle, offices
shrink, unemployment on the rise and financial transactions
hard to come-by. In fact, the entire economy of the construction
sector has begun to dwindle away in an alarming speed. As
one of the leading architects, put it "I have been in
practice for thirty years or more, our office work load just
ran dry. There was nothing coming in. I could not find the
money to pay staff salaries: that was a major problem, because
the clients did not pay. Some of the clients have still not
paid. When they will pay I do not know. Then again there was
no prospect of getting new work. We were forced to retrench
some staff, more will follow if the situation does not change.
Now this is a serious matter".
it has become a serious matter; so serious that across the
construction industry at all levels, from the labourers at
sites to managing directors of companies, this has been an
issue that has demoralised and shaken the very energy that
could have been productively engaged to gear up the industry.
The doomsday scenarios were being painted and those who could
find the ways to get away have begun to leave. Construction
Industry no doubt is likely to face a bleak future.
of course something is done.
this very moment, however, that something is being done and
as it always happens in crisis situations, leaders rise from
the ashes and so it has happened in the Construction Industry.
A month or so ago, the construction industry professionals
have come together to form what they call the " Chamber
of Construction Industry of Sri Lanka. In short, CCI.
is not an unusual organisation. In many parts of the developed
world such organisations exist and they spearhead the development
of those sectors. Chambers exist in other professional fields
and we know very well the existence and the great achievements
of the Chambers of Commerce and Industry. The Chamber of Construction
Industry thus has its models very well established; roles
defined modalities worked out and practices in other fields
to learn from. They have shown that such organisations can
tremendously boost the economies of such sectors and it is
this perception that a CCI in Sri Lanka can perhaps get us
out of the misery that is descending upon the industry that
led to some of the professionals to take this initiative.
located at the Head quarters of the Sri Lanka Institute of
Architects and nurtured by its resources and facilities, CCI
hopes to rejuvenate the construction industry and generate
collective benefits to its members. It hopes to lead the Construction
Industry and build up a "think-tank" for its development.
It believes that it should be able to influence government
policies as a powerful organisation representing the entire
industry as a whole and instruct the government where it is
going wrong and how to get to the right track for the upliftment
of the industry in specific and the country in general. It
feels that the industry has been led like the blind being
led by the blind, over the decade and that has to change.
A single voice is needed to make such a change.
singular aim is to generate more work for the Industry locally
initiated or foreign funded. It is determined to ensure that
the projects funded by the World Bank, IMF, ADB and others
are channelled properly, performed and brought in to the local
economy. In the past, many such projects have not materialised
due to inadequate arrangements for public private partnerships,
lack of organised local counterpart funding, and without doubt
the over arched desire to employ the foreign architects and
contractors. CCI is determined to reverse these trends and
regenerate the construction Industry for the benefit of all
its members, Companies Professional employees and workers.
is no doubt that the Chamber of Construction Industry is a
major undertaking within the construction Industry and must
be nurtured. Most countries such as Brazil, Philippines, Malaysia,
and India are marking progressive developments led by their
CCI's. It is time that we join hands with the newly formed
CCI and participate in its creation and contribute to its
decision- making. If we join hands there, we can collectively
determine its future and the future of the construction industry,
Indeed, to a certain extent, the future of this country.
invites Architects, Engineers and Contractors, building material
manufacturers, skilled workers, real estate developers, insurance
companies, development banks, state agencies and all others
connected to the Construction Industry to individually and
collectively to join. It is their partnerships that will make-up
the 'single voice' with which the Industry will influence
the future of the industry. CCI believes that we have the
expertise, the resources and the opportunity to take our construction
industry to a bright future. It is the will that needs to
be mustered; it is the power of the collective that should
be harnessed. It is only if we all in the construction industry
join hands that we can get ourselves out of the misery that
is befalling us. The Chamber of Construction Industry, led
by an energetic, experienced and a visionary President like
Deshabandu' Surath Wickramasinghe offers us this opportunity
to do so.
says that there appears the chance of a rainbow in every dark
cloud. It is for us to be optimistic and hopeful that we can
together, enable the rainbows to dawn in the otherwise dark
clouded construction Industry in Sri Lanka.