ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s government has not yet decided on a budget proposal to liberalise the shipping sector by removing foreign ownership limits on ship agency and freight forwarding businesses, Minister of Ports &Shipping Sagala Ratnayaka said.
“Liberalisation is good as it will improve competition but I have to be convinced it won’t harm local industry,” he told a news conference where a new ports new website – www.news.slpa.lk – was activated.
“I’m responsible to ensure the people of Sri Lanka get the best deal,” Ratnayaka said.
He said government decisions may change from time to time and it was important to keep up with the times.
“Sometimes I have to think in a very liberal way and at other times in a more balanced manner.”
The government’s last budget proposed removing a 40 percent foreign ownership limit on ship agency and freight forwarding companies.
The move has been opposed by companies including conglomerates, with local ship agency businesses as well as locally freight forwarding firms.
Sri Lanka’s draft maritime shipping policy maintains the status quo of a minimum 60 percent equity holding for locals in shipping agency companies.
But it recommends allowing 100 percent ownership by a foreign liner shipping principal of its own agency company in Sri Lanka, subject to an investment of over 100 million US dollars.