The Sri-Lankan Construction Industry in the New Millennium
C WEDDIKKARA Dept. of Management, Construction and Building Science University of Western Sydney, Australia email@example.com K. DEVAPRIYA Dept. of Building Economics University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka (Research Scholar, University of Hong Kong)
The construction investment in Sri- Lanka has followed the economic changes that took place during the last decade. This resulted in a significant change particularly in the supply side of the construction industry. Projections towards the new millennium reveal that government policies will be the key deterministic factor with its traditional role changing from that of an investor and a regulator to that of a facilitator in construction. While these policies lead to a larger private sector participation in infrastructure and industrial development with increased foreign participation, it has also put the domestic industry under pressure to change due to such developments. As such, the role of the contracting firms together with the project delivery process and project procurement will be subject to change to meet new demand conditions. This new project culture will face many constraints that originate locally from financial, technological and management deficiencies and construction industry development will be necessitated to accommodate new trends in order to be beneficial. Both corporate development and wider industry development will be necessary. This paper reports these new developments against the background of the past performance of the industry and the necessary measures to be taken by the Sri Lankan construction sector to meet those changes. Although the study is primarily confined to Sri Lanka, these findings are also relevant to the construction sectors of other developing countries where similar movements are taking place. Keywords: Demand and supply trends, Government policies, Facilitator, Economic changes, Construction industry development, Sri Lanka.
This paper attempts to forecast the future outlook of the Sri-Lankan construction industry based on an analysis of factors underlying the changes in the industry. While these factors are brought to establish an insight into the demand trends and production characteristics, further observations are made to identify the factors that are apparent so as to forecast the future operating environment of the construction industry in Sri Lanka. The analytical framework (Fig.1) focuses on demand and supply side factors of the construction industry as discussed by writers such as Stone (1983), Raftery (1996) and Hillebrandt (1985) since they best characterise the operating environment of the industry. The analysis is supported by a literature review, interviews and statistical data.
Past performance of the construction industry
The historical development of the Sri-Lankan construction industry is closely linked with the political changes that took place during the last three decades. In this respect, the significant economic changes can
be categorized into pre- and post-economic liberalization periods. In the pre-liberalization period of 196374, the government channelled most investment into the building sector (Table-1) although it implemented several irrigation projects under the patronage of foreign aid in order to create the necessary infrastructure for the agro- based economy in Sri-Lanka. During the period from 1970 to 1977, the economic environment was shaped by the socialist influence. This resulted in restricted private-sector participation in economic development. The adoption of fixed exchange rates made it difficult for the many industrial activities, which faced problems including difficulties in the importation of materials. This badly affected foreign investments in the country.
Historical performance of the industry
Trends of sectoral construction demand
Supply side characteristics.
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