Sri Lanka finance minister asks shipping sector to embrace openness

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s shipping industry will be protected against unfair foreign competition but it must be ready for the sector to open up and compete with international firms, Minister of Finance Ravi Karunanayake said.

“This is the area where openness is required. If you think that domestically you will be protected for ever, you are wrong,” he told the Colombo International Maritime Conference.

“But if you working strongly and able to give competition to foreign firms that come in – that’s the way forward.”

Karunanayake said Sri Lanka has a good chance to be positioned as a maritime and financial centre given difficulties and high costs in other such centres like Dubai and Singapore but it must open up to the outside world in order to do so.

“The shipping industry will be a protected area – it will not be a free for all,” he said. “But the shipping industry must be ready to take competition in good stride.

“You cannot block – but we will not expose the industry to foreign firms who will seize opportunities which you all can do better. A sense of openness will be there.

He also assured the shipping industry that it will be consulted so that they have certainty in planning.

He said the private sector should now come forward and invest.

“I seek your indulgence – if you have confidence you must ensure you invest – put your money where your mouth is,” said Karunanayake.

The maritime sector, which now accounts for two percent of the economy, should grow to 7-8% of GDP in the next couple of years, he said. (COLOMBO, Sept 23, 2016)





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