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Sunday June 16th, 2024

Sri Lanka’s ship agency liberalisation will draw foreign investment, cut costs: Eran

ECONOMYNEXT – Liberalising Sri Lanka’s ship agency sector will attract foreign investment, improve efficiencies and reduce costs, Eran Wickramaratne, State Minister of Finance and Mass Media, said. 

“Liberalisation of shipping agency business is a key stepping stone for us to develop Sri Lanka as a maritime and trading hub in the Indian Ocean,” he told a forum of key public and private sector stakeholders in the shipping industry.

“Allowing foreign ownership in the sector will expand the size of the overall market,” he said, referring to government plans to lift the 40 percent foreign ownership restriction on shipping agencies.

“We should take advantage of the window of opportunity available to us and maximise the advantage of Sri Lanka’s location,” Wickramaratne said at the Public-Private Dialogue hosted by the International Trade Centre (ITC).

It was held to provide a platform for all stakeholders, including the private sector, to share their views and concerns over liberalisation, which has been opposed by ship agencies.

Wickramaratne said that one of the island’s greatest advantages was its strategic location on maritime routes in the Indian Ocean, which has enabled it to become a container transhipment hub.

But the island’s full potential remains unused, he said.

A key aim of the government is to develop the island as a maritime and trading hub in the Indian Ocean.

“We hope to have taken the initial steps by 2025 for which we need to invest and reform our offering,” Wickramaratne said.

While port infrastructure is being developed, “another crucial step in this process is full liberalisation of the shipping industry,” he said.
 
Current ship agency pricing controls are artificial structures that do not reflect market dynamics.

“Also the industry is controlled by large domestic players and there is a lack of foreign participation in the agency business,” Wickramaratne said.

“Through liberalisation we could become more competitive and more efficient.

“By removing the 40 percent foreign equity ownership limit, more global firms will invest in Sri Lanka, increasing competition, leading to greater efficiency, lower cost and higher quality of services that would benefit exporters and importers.”
(COLOMBO, 02 October, 2018)
 

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Sri Lanka car import relaxing roadmap given to IMF: State Minister

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka has submitted a roadmap on relaxing vehicle imports to the International Monetary Fund, State Minister of Finance Ranjith Siymabalapitiya said as the country recovers from the worst currency crises in the history of its central bank.

The import relaxation will allow vehicles for public transport, goods transport, then motor cycles and cars use by private individuals and after that, luxury cars, Minister Siyambalapitiya said.

Luxury cars however attract the highest taxes for each dollar spent on imports.

Economic analysts have characterized vehicle import controls as a ‘cascading policy error’ that follows inflationary rate cuts, which then deprive taxes to the state and triggers more money printing and more forex shortages, requiring even higher corrective interest rates and a contraction of economic activities to save the rupee.

According to the latest IMF report car import controls may have led to revenue losses of 0.7 to 0.9 percent of GDP.

Sri Lanka started controlling imports few years after a central bank was set up in 1950 and also tightened exchange controls progressively, so that macroeconomists using post-1920 spurious monetary doctrines taught at Anglophone universities could print money through various mechanisms to suppress rates.

Sri Lanka is working with the IMF as a guide on many issues and the roadmap was submitted to the agency on June 14, Minister Siyambalapitiya said.

The IMF in an economic report released last week the plan was expected to be submitted by June 15.

Whatever the IMF’s faults, which some wags have called ‘progressive Saltwaterism’, the agency does not advocate import controls as solution to balance of payments problems, despite a Mercantilist fixation with the current account deficit in countries with reserve collecting central banks, analysts say.

Import controls have the same effect as import substation on the balance of payments, which is none, classical economists have pointed out and is now mainly a problem associated with macro economists and economic bureaucrats of so-called basket case countries.

Any pressure on the currency or missed reserves targets in the IMF program has come in the past only if the central bank printed money to suppress rates as credit growth picked up from car imports.

Sri Lanka had 3,000 items under import controls when rates were suppressed with printed money from 2020 to 2022 but eventually ended up with the worst currency crisis triggered by macro economists in the history of the country and eventual external default.

A committee made up of the Department of Trade and Fiscal Policy of the Finance Ministry, the Department of Registration of Motor Vehicles, the Central Bank and two associations representing vehicle imports were appointed to come up with the roadmap, he said. (Colombo/June15/2024)

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Chitrasiri Committee presents draft constitution for Sri Lanka Cricket

ECONOMYNEXT – A draft constitution for Sri Lanka Cricket, the governing body for cricket in the island, prepared by a committee headed by retired Supreme Court judge K T Chitrasiri, was presented to President Ranil Wickremesinghe today (15).

The Sri Lanka team were ignominiously knocked out of the Men’s T20 World Cup tournament this week, sparking renewed criticism of the team and the governing body.

Last November, a cabinet sub-committee was appointed to address challenges faced by Sri Lanka Cricket and provide recommendations after consecutive losses became a hot topic in parliament.

After parliament decided to remove the administrators of the sport, the International Cricket Council (ICC) Board suspended Sri Lanka Cricket’s membership.

Based on the sub-committee’s recommendations in its report, the Cabinet then appointed an expert committee to draft a new constitution for Sri Lanka Cricket.

The committee headed by judge K T Chitrasiri includes President’s Counsel Harsha Amarasekara, Attorney-at-Law Dr Aritha Wickramanayake and Chairman of the Sri Lanka Chamber of Commerce Duminda Hulangamuwa.

Deputy Solicitor General Manohara Jayasinghe, and Shamila Krishanthi, Assistant Draftsman representing the Legal Draftsman’s Department, and Loshini Peiris, Additional Secretary to the President were also on the committee. (Colombo/Jun14/2024)

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Sri Lanka’s Cable Solutions in Rs605mn IPO

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Cable Solutions Limited will make an initial public offering of ordinary voting shares on the Diri Savi Board of the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE).

The CSE had approved, in-principle, an application submitted by the company, for the listing of its ordinary voting shares by way of an offer for subscription and an offer for sale.

For subscription, 14,666,600 shares would be offered at 7.50 rupees a share.

For sale, 66,120,000 shares would be offered at 7.50 rupees a share.

The opening of subscription list is July 23. Copies of the prospectus would be made available to trading participants on July 9. (Colombo/Jun15/2024)

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Sri Lanka’s ACL Cables wraps up acquisition of Cable Solutions

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