President commends CEAT-Kelani Tyres for 35 year contribution to SL
By: Staff Writer
Colombo (LNW): President Ranil Wickremesinghe praised CEAT-Kelani Tyres for its remarkable journey from a State-owned enterprise (SOE) to a symbol of successful privatisation.
Speaking at it in a momentous event marking 25 years of business excellence, Wickremesinghe reminisced about the challenging birth of Kelani Tyres and the pivotal role it played in Sri Lanka’s history.
He paid a tribute to CEAT-Kelani Tyres Chairman Chanaka de Silva’s tireless efforts to bring the company to present stauus overcommig challenges which was his forte from his school days at Royal College as the fiery opening bolwer memarsed schll boy cricketers in 1960s.
Royal had a devastating combination of fast bowlers, (Darrel) Lieversz and (Chanaka) De Silva. They managed to bundle out the Peterites for 42 and 38 runs at Reid Avenue.
At that time Royal also beat Ananda, another start-studded side bowling them out, and they had to get only 82 runs to win and we managed to bowl them out for 76 runs.
“Kelani Tyres was situated in Kelaniya, adjacent to Biyagama, which falls within my electorate. When I assumed the role of Minister of Industries, I recognised the need to close this facility. Kelani Tyres had earned its reputation,” he stated.
He highlighted the tough decisions and battles faced in the process of privatising the company.
“A decision was reached to sell off Kelani Tyres. We initiated the standard process and requested bids. Chanaka was the initial bidder, but for reasons unknown, President Premadasa did not favour it.
This scenario repeated twice, with Chanaka de Silva , being the primary bidder each time, yet he remained unsatisfied. I finally said, ‘Sir, I cannot continue to provide reasons.’
The situation remained the same on the third attempt. At this juncture, we had to make a decision, one that would determine whether we were selecting the best bid or favouring industry giants.”
The President also spoke about the establishment of CEAT in Sri Lanka, a collaboration that became a reality in 1993.
“The next stage involved CEAT and Kelani uniting, a partnership forged in Balapitiya. The Silva’s and the Soysa’s decided to join forces, a decision with its own interesting history.
Chanaka’s father Aarti, in the early 60s, was a member of the SLFP, representing C.P. De Silva. Ajit’s father and Tilak’s father were members of the UNP and part of our working committee.
In 1965, when Mrs. Bandaranaike decided to acquire Lake House Press, my father was the Managing Director.
Ajit’s father and Chanaka’s father collaborated, brought Bandaranaike down and made Dudley Senanayake the Prime Minister in the 1965 election. So that is how our connections go back. In the process, Mahinda’s father lost the election. Regardless, the two companies joined forces and today, we celebrate their 25th anniversary.”
The President recognised CEAT-Kelani as a model of Indo-Lanka cooperation, serving as an example for those seeking to enter the Sri Lankan market.
“This partnership exemplifies successful Indo-Lanka cooperation, serving as a model for those considering entering the Sri Lankan market,” he commented.
CEAT Kelani Holdings manufactures nearly half of Sri Lanka’s pneumatic tyre requirements and exports about 20% of its production to 16 countries in South Asia, the Middle East, Africa and the Far East.