Sri Lanka shippers urged to avoid bribes

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lankan shippers have been urged to refrain from resorting to bribing authorities to get their cargo cleared and to ensure a proper system for trade is in place.

Sean van Dort, chairman of the Sri Lanka Shippers Council (SLSC), welcomed the move towards e-commerce, saying it would not only speed up cargo movements but reduce corruption.

A Customs export facilitation centre that the SLSC helped introduce was met with resistance at the start by many “vested interests” because it disrupted “usual practices”, he said, referring to bribes.

“E-commerce in this country is now better than many others in this region but we have to improve,” van Dort told the association’s annual general meeting. 

A system with no human intervention is required, he said, noting that face-to-face contact between officials and shippers resulted in corruption as businesses offered bribes to get their cargo cleared faster or avoid regulations. 

“We must ensure a system is in place and not rely on individuals,” van Dort said.

“We have created a monster over the years where we are responsible for using various dubious ways of getting things done because we were not correct in our approach. We always look for short cuts, to violate regulations to get the job done,” he said.

“Please do not adhere to wrong practices. We know this is a corrupt trade. We know money talks and crap walks but we don’t want to adhere to that.”

 “Just as much as we accuse many authorities for being corrupt we are also part of that corruption when we adhere to slipping envelopes in their hands,” he said. (Colombo/July 28 2015)

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