Fresh attempts at clearing sub-standard cement

By Chris Kamalendran

A fresh attempt to clear a stock of cement which failed to meet required local standards was rejected by the Sri Lanka Customs on Friday.

Customs officials said that the importer of the cement – the Sri Lanka National Co-operatives Board (SLNCB) which comes under the purview of the Co-operatives and Internal Trade Ministry -- had provided a certificate on the cement standards from a London institution. But this was not accepted.The move came as the Customs was still carrying out an inquiry into an incident where stocks had been illegally cleared from a warehouse of the Building Materials Corporation (BMC) before obtaining approval of the Sri Lanka Standards Institution (SLSI).

SLNCB Director General Bandu Ranawaka said they had obtained a standard certificate from a British firm and tried to clear the stocks.“We made this attempt as the SLSI process was getting delayed.
However the Customs was not satisfied with the certificate from London,” he said.

He said they were planning to file action against the SLSI for the delay in providing the certification.Mr. Ranawaka said they had already imported 14,000 bags of cement and ordered 100,000 more. An SLSI spokesman said the process of testing was still on and hence they had still not issued the certificate.

The SLSI had warned on two occasions against the import of cement from the particular company as the stocks failed to meet the required standards. Another consignment which had been imported was illegally removed from the warehouse while the SLSI testing process was continuing.

The SLSI was also carrying out a separate inquiry about the removal of the stocks without its certification. Under existing laws, SLSI certification for cement is required for the import or sale.

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