Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday opened a new lubricant blending plant built at the Ceylon Petroleum Storage Terminals Ltd (CPSTL) complex in Muthurajawela with an investment of US$ 30 million by Malaysian manufacturer of petroleum derivatives Hyrax Oil. Picture shows the Prime Minister receiving a product from the company’s Group Director Dato Hazimah Zainuddin. Minister Kabir Hashim, Deputy Minister Anoma Gamage and Malaysian High Commissioner Tan Yang Thai were present. Picture by Hirantha Gunathilake
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said that Sri Lanka, ten years after the end of the civil war continued to lag behind Asian counterparts like Singapore and Malaysia due to the lack of strategic and conducive development policies.
Even when the Yahapalana government took over, he said that the country could no longer pay its loans and lagged far behind.
The Prime Minister was speaking at the opening of the new lubricant blending plant in Muturajawela, a 20-year Build Operate & Transfer (BOT) agreement by Hyrax Oil Sdn Bhd with Ceylon Petroleum Corporation.
Referring to the venture in Sri Lanka as ‘pioneering’, the Prime Minister said he hopes the venture would serve as an example and an inspiration to other Malaysian and Singaporean companies that have expressed their interest in investing in the country.
“At a time when we looked up to countries like Singapore and Malaysia we were fighting a civil war, we lagged behind while the other countries forged ahead,” he said. “But even after the end of the war, we did not have a plan to rebuild this country and uplift this economy. We borrowed loans for all we could.”
Prime Minister Wickremesinghe remarked that during the last two months Sri Lanka paid USD 200 million in loans. “Many will be surprised to note just how much interest the international community has shown in helping Sri Lanka,” he said. He referred to the foundation laying for the project which was done by former Minister A.H.M Fowzie in 2003 but that not much had happened since due to the policies of the country.
“Establishing commercial enterprise that attract direct foreign investments to Sri Lanka indeed begets positive economic outcomes,” the Prime Minister said. Meanwhile, Highways and Road Development and Petroleum Resource Development Minister Kabir Hashim said that Sri Lanka has not invested in the project but has provided all the support needed to set up the plant on BOT basis for the next 20-years.
“This plant will help synchronize their production and ensure Ceyptco brand is popularized again in the Sri Lankan market. Their production capacity is far higher, potentially with their technology and their marketing capacity that they have already done. In South Asia, particularly India is a huge market and having a production unit gives here gives them additional benefits to enjoy the Free Trade Agreements that we have signed up with India.” Minister Hashim said.
Dato Hazimah Zainuddin, Group Director of Hyrax Oil Sdn Bhd said that the lubricant blending plant is a 30 Million USD project based in Muthurajawela, Wattala with an expected job creation of 220 employees. Built across five acres, the plant spans 40 000 square feet and has a capacity of 72 000 MT per annum to blend automotive, industrial, marine and specialty lubricants including greases and transform oil. Hyrax Oil envisions to create 10 million USD per annum in profits from Sri Lanka. High Commissioner of Malaysia to Sri Lanka, Tan Yang Thai said that Malaysia has shown interest in investing in Sri Lanka despite Sri Lanka’s security challenges and the investors expect the government’s fullest support in doing business in the country.