Sunday July 21, 2019

Sri Lanka govt snubs shipping industry on policy initiative

Mar 21, 2017 07:13 AM GMT+0530 | 1 Comment(s)

ECONOMYNEXT - Efforts by Sri Lanka’s shipping professionals to initiate discussions with the government on a policy for its ports and shipping sector have been unsuccessful despite the new regime’s professed commitment to transparency and dialogue.

The existing shipping policy was drawn up about a decade ago and has not been updated despite appeals by professional bodies keen to better exploit the island’s location close to the main East-West trade route across the Indian Ocean with a coherent, consistent policy.

A major issue facing the island’s shipping sector is that Sri Lanka does not have a national policy on port development, said Rohaan Abeywickrama, former chairman of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT).

“We don’t know the government’s thinking on tariffs at Hambantota port, for example,” he told a forum discussing the port’s future held by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce and Shippers’ Academy Colombo.

The shipping industry did not know if tariffs at Hambantota, which critics have dubbed a ‘white elephant’ for not having enough business, will be lower than Colombo port’s, he said.

“Who will be the landlord in Hambantota port? Who will provide navigation services?” asked  Abeywickrama. “Attempts by the CILT and the Company of Master Mariners to start a national discussion on policy did not get the support of the government,” he said.

In most European countries, there is a stated policy for the landlord, and terminals owned and operated by the private sector but regulated by the government.

“Also, Europe has safeguards for local investors and partners in port development.”

Abeywickrama said he believed these issues were being discussed in government talks to get China to invest in the loss-making, debt-ridden Hambantota port on long lease in a debt-for-equity deal.

Right now, Hambantota port has “no commercial viability,” he said. “Professionals and the business community should get the government to discuss a policy framework for the sector.” (COLOMBO, March 21, 2017)


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  1. DESHAPREMIYA March 21, 08:14 AM

    I think mr abeywickrema has a point which is very valid. it is about time the entire shipping establishment of the govt is given a shake up.people buy vessels and then they find it cannot b run and ad hoc initiatives by the govt to clear case by case can b seen. this can b avoided if a proper policy in keeping with all developed nations are in place.further look at our domestic shipping which is near non existent. the rules laid down are for international sea going vesse ls lad by imo. but one look at japan/ maldives one korea it is eveident that domestic coastal ships hv regulations to support the trade.the govt can save billions in road maintenance if coastal sea trade is acitivated.many jobs and whole new economic chain can b activatedhence rohan abeywickrema is very right about policy

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