Message from founder chairman



Eng. Ravith Silva


The journey of the Automobile Industry Council began with a recognition of a pressing need within the Ministry of Industries, the Ministry of Transport, and the TVEC. This need revolved around human capital for future industrialization, the development of the local automobile service industry, and the updating of national competency standards and curriculum for the automobile industry. Key initiatives, spearheaded by individuals like Ms. Thilaka, Hon Dr. Ramesh Pathirana, Hon Lasantha Alagiyawanna, Hon Dr. Bandula, and Mr. Erandika of the ILO, in collaboration with TVEC through Ms. Himali of Skills Sector Development, culminated in the formation of the Automobile Industry Council.

Having explored the council’s beginnings, it’s time to delve into a matter of paramount importance. This topic transcends the confines of the automotive industry and holds profound implications for the future of Sri Lanka, its economy, and its global standing. The objective is to empower professionals to transition from job seekers to entrepreneurs who generate employment opportunities.

This council is not just another bureaucratic entity. It represents a unique partnership between the government and the private sector, with a core objective of nurturing the automobile industry. Our mission is to develop the essential professional, academic, and vocational skills required to transition Sri Lanka from a consumer-driven economy to an industrial powerhouse that is digitally connected, as articulated by His Excellency Ranil Wickramasinghe.

Sri Lanka is endowed with abundant resources, a highly educated populace, and a strategic location at the crossroads of global shipping routes. Despite these advantages, we’ve been grappling with a persistent trade deficit, largely dependent on consumerism to fuel our economy.

In our pursuit of transforming Sri Lanka’s automotive industry, it’s crucial to focus not only on manufacturing but also on creating a conducive and dignified work environment for all professionals, whether technical or non-technical, engaged in the importation, sales, and service sectors. These individuals are integral to the industry, often serving as the face of the business to end consumers.

In this regard, the Ministry of Transport’s plans to regulate industry stakeholders can be a catalyst for adopting high technology and upskilling service providers. This will pave the way for them to transition into assemblers and, perhaps in the years and generations to come, even motor manufacturers.

It’s imperative that we recognize the value of these practitioners and work together to empower them to play an integral role in our journey toward a more vibrant and self-reliant automotive industry. This inclusive approach will not only make our industry more resilient but also help in building a strong and prosperous Sri Lanka for all.

We have the potential to shift our economy from one driven by consumption to a robust industrial one, thus revitalizing our economic prospects. Sri Lanka boasts one of the highest average IQs in the region and the world. We have rich resources like rubber, titanium, and the world’s finest silica and graphite. Our strategic location at the crossroads of global trade routes is a unique advantage that we can harness, benefiting not only ourselves but also the entire region.

We have the opportunity to be a bridge between our friends in the East and our friends in the West within the automobile supply chain, but this requires a fundamental shift in our approach. As we look ahead, it’s crucial that we avoid making ad-hoc decisions on vehicle imports, reminiscent of what happened in 1994.

The lowering of import taxes and the influx of cheaper imported goods made manufacturing in Sri Lanka less attractive, resulting in many local manufacturers ceasing their operations. This happened due to increased competition, a cost disadvantage, a shift in consumer behavior, and the loss of a skilled workforce.

Furthermore, recent events have indicated that the central government sees the automobile industry as a potential significant contributor to the economy, surpassing the apparel industry of the future. The apparel industry has been a key driver of our economy, but it’s susceptible to global demand fluctuations and competition from other countries.

By developing the automobile industry, we can diversify our economic base, creating a more robust and resilient economy. The development of the automobile industry promises significant upstream and downstream opportunities, elevating Sri Lanka beyond our wildest dreams.

Regarding education, the Council’s primary objective, our current education systems need a transformation to meet future demands. Hon Minister and my dear friends, we must differentiate between academic and professional education, recognizing that not all students are cut from the same cloth.

By introducing an identification exam around grade 6 or 9, we can help students choose between a vocational or an academic path. This allows students with practical skills to coexist and collaborate with those more inclined towards academia.

The future of Sri Lanka’s economy and its potential to become an automotive industry hub hinges on our ability to adapt, innovate, and invest in our human capital. We have the raw materials, intelligence, and a strategic location. We can be a catalyst for the entire region and bridge the gap between East and West.

But this vision demands commitment, collaboration, and a shared dedication to the industrial transformation of our economy. Finally, let us embark on this journey together, shaping a prosperous future for Sri Lanka and leaving behind the constraints of a trade deficit and consumerism.

Let us build a nation that thrives on innovation, education, and industry, making us a beacon of hope and prosperity for our people and the world. Enjoy the rest of the evening and await stronger commitments from the honorable ministers.

Thank you.