Investment costs in Sri Lanka seen as having doubled over the past months

By Hiran H. Senewiratne

The current US dollar crisis and high US dollar rate discourage investing in Sri Lanka because the investment cost has doubled during the last few months, a leading end-to-end auto care specialist said.

“We were planning to invest in Sri Lanka in a big way but abandoned our plans due to the high US dollar rate and shortage of labour for the auto care industry. Skilled labour problems arose during the Covid 19 lockdown period; most of them left the country for higher salaries, Director, Auto Miraj, Ramith Sarathchandra told The Island Financial Review.

Sarathchandra said that most overseas business plans with Bangladesh and Qatar have been put on hold due to the current situation.

Auto Miraj, end-to-end auto care specialists will be investing Rs 200 million for branch expansion and opening Sri Lanka’s first-ever water steam car wash centre at the Colombo City Center, he said.

Sarathchandra added: ‘We will invest Rs. 100 million to open the first car- cleaning centre using steam wash. This new technology will minimize the use of water using less than two litres of water to wash a vehicle, minimizing the environmental impact as well.

“Initially we will have space to wash six vehicles and will expand it towards the end of 2022.

“In addition, we will be opening our next branch in Kurunegala next month and this will be followed by the opening of three other branches in Vavuniya, Badulla and Gampaha and we hope to invest around Rs, 100 million for this expansion drive.

“Finding skilled painters is a major issue as after learning the basics in Sri Lanka they migrate to the Middle East. Unfortunately, we can’t retain them since we cannot match the salaries the Gulf offers to skilled painters.

“Today Auto Miraj owns the largest automobile maintenance network in Sri Lanka and also filling stations and tyre shops and has also ventured into setting up professional automobile workshops and body shops. Auto Miraj provides genuine spare parts for all Japanese, European, Indian and other vehicles.

“Auto Miraj was also the first to introduce ‘Glass coated paint’, which not only protects the body against minor scratches but also safeguards from bird- droppings, dust and other substances.

“Auto Miraj was set up in 1994 at Ratmalana and as chairman and founder of Auto Miraj, Iroshan Sarathchandra saw a vacuum for professional auto care in Sri Lanka. He introduced many firsts, which included auto hoist clean undercarriage, turbo pressure pumps, engine spray- cleaning, customer lounge with refreshments and free Wifi, prior appointments for customers, dedicated and car cleaning chemicals and many more.

“Auto Miraj has also launched two ‘senior citizen care’ projects in London through 365 Care Homes Ltd.”

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