Sri Lanka SOE in new move to clear controversial cement: report

Aug 29, 2011 (LBO) – A state enterprise has tried to again to clear a consignment of cement with a foreign quality certificate adding to a controversy where stocks earlier cleared without certification, a media report said. Sri Lanka’s The Sunday Times newspaper said the Sri Lanka National Co-operatives Board (SLNCB) which comes under the purview of the Co-operatives and Internal Trade Ministry had given a UK certificate to customs authorities to clear a consignment of cement.

Sri Lanka is facing a cement shortage due to price controls which is discouraging the import of good quality cement amid a global spike in prices.

In recent years on several occasions when price controls created shortages state enterprises have got into the act sometimes with tax concessions and then ‘leaking’ the products as in the case of chicken.

The Sunday Times newspaper said Sri Lanka’s Customs and the standards body was probing how part of the controversial consignment was cleared from a state warehouse without quality clearance earlier. Buildings made with substandard cement can later collapse.

The report said Customs authorities had refused allow the cement to be cleared with the test report from a UK institute.