Business Times

Lankan salt imports reduce by half

By Duruthu Edirimuni Chandrasekera

The Raigam Group says that the country’s imported salt requirement has reduced to 20,000 Metric Tonnes (MT) per annum from the earlier 45,000 MT owing to the local salt production drive by firms such as Raigam and that imports this year will be further brought down.

“During the past two years, the total imports have reduced to 20,000 MT from the more than 45,000 MT which was one third of the national requirement in 2007,” Dr. Ravi Liyanage, Chairman/CEO Raigam told the Business Times. He added that this year the imports will be further reduced to 10,000 MT.

He said that the demand for both household and industrial consumption in Sri Lanka is estimated to be 150,000 Metric Tonnes (MT) per annum. The actual average production was approximately 110,000 MT and the balance demand was met by imports where the imports were carried out by private parties.

Dr. Liyanage said that the salt industry has significant potential to develop as the country is surrounded by the sea and the tropical weather is conducive for the production of salt. "But this year the weather was not all that good for salt harvesting,” he added, explaining that salt production is sensitive towards the weather conditions and that any unfavourable weather conditions will affect the production of the company in inverse manner.

He added that Raigam is eyeing a pharmaceutical business as well. “This is long term plan and we will cater to the Over The Counter (OTC) drugs especially in the rural areas,” he added. Dr Liyanage said that Raigam is interested in fast moving consumer goods firms, but at the ‘right’ price. He said that Raigam's beauty care product arm, Dream Life Science operations posting about Rs. 50 million in revenue per month wants to capture some markets of products which are manufactured by multinationals. He added that Raigam hopes to mainly diversify in cosmetics.

Dr. Liyanage added that the 1805 acre land which they bought in Trincomalee will be utilized by their subsidiary, Raigam Wayamba Saltern PLC (RWSL) which went public in March 2010. He also said that once completed, this will be the largest saltern in the country. Dr Liyanage said that in a bid to develop this saltern, RWSL may go in for a rights issue to raise the cash. He said that after completing this project, the company will put up an eco tourism project in the same premises.

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