Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT) subscribers in the Western province will have to wait at least another two months for their telephone directories as the process of collating information and printing this year`s edition for the 1.2 million customer base has run into a string of obstacles.
`Printing different directories for such a huge subscriber base is an enormous task`, a senior SLT official said last week. `It`s a Rs. 400 million project`.
`We have introduced a series of value additions including a Compact Disc (CD), Rainbow Pages and Web Information to the 2007 residential, business, provincial and Western province directories`, he explained. `All this has proved to be time-consuming`.
`Our objective is to deviate from the traditional concept of a mere telephone directory and produce a collection of national information`, he noted. `That`s happening`.
He said that the distribution of the provincial directories is expected to commence by the end of this month as the printing is now being completed. `We have already taken delivery of a part of the stocks`.
In a bid to cut costs, SLT entrusted 50% of the printing work to a company in India, the official said. `We found that it was cost-effective in comparison to getting the job done in Sri Lanka`.
`But with the new taxes now in place, we won`t be able to do it next year`, he said. `This means all the directories will have to printed locally`.
He noted that it would be a good idea to examine the possibility of printing the residential directory once in two years or so because the information changes done are minimal ? about 5% to 10%`.
Another reason for the inordinate delay was the poor response from government establishments when relevant information for inclusion in the directory is sought, he asserted. `Most of them are very slow`.
Asked when the Western province and other connected directories would be ready for distribution, the official replied, `By the end of July`.
The cost of producing each directory ranged from Rs. 350/- to Rs. 450/-, he explained. `It is an enormous financial commitment because directories are issued free of charge`.
The new directories will also include information on call centres and private telecommunication providers, the official said.