Developments in Sri Lankan industry

The growth since Sri Lanka achieved independence because some of our presidential candidates have said that Sri Lanka had no improvement from the time we got independence 71 years ago. It is sad to note that some of our presidential aspirants happen to be that unaware.

Industrial Development started in the early Fifties. It was a two-pronged programme with the Ministry of Industries chasing large scale industries like Cement, Paper, etc, while the newly recognized Department of Rural Development and Cottage Industries recognized Handloom Training Centers in rural areas with the idea of preparing womenfolk in handlooms. With the appointment of Demonstrators in Handlooms, this Agenda took off with many women taking to have handlooms in their homes. Directions were also provided in traditional crafts. This activity was overseen by the Rural Development Officers and by the Divisional Secretaries. As the Additional Government Agent at Kegalla and as the Government Agent at Matara I have been in responsibility of the Department of Rural Development..

This industrial activity got a shot in the arm when the small industry purposes of the Department of Rural Development and Cottage Industries were taken over by a new Department of Small Industries. I operated as a Deputy Director of Small Industries in 1970. This Department delivered foreign exchange allocations to small industrialists to import any necessity for their production. At that time imports were restricted and special distributions were required to import. This Department also imported yarn and gave it to handloomers. The handloomers made modified textiles like sarees as well as elegant textiles for general sales and these were sold by Cooperatives. The formation of Lak Sala, a sales channel run by the Department of Small Industries, with branches in many cities, gave a improvement to the sale of small industrial items made by small industrialists.