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Sunday October 1st, 2023

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 National Christian Council opposes Online Safety Bill

ECONOMYNEXT – The National Christian Council of Sri Lanka (NCCSL) in a statement on the Online Safety Bill, said that the existing legal regime is adequate to deal with instances of harmful speech, making it unjustifiable to enact such “stringent laws”.

The Council called upon the government to withdraw the bill immediately.

The body expressed “deep concern” over the proposed bill, detailing its potential to curtail freedom of speech and how, according to the Council, the piece of legislature is inconsistent with the principles of democracy.

“The bill proposes the establishment of an entity named the Online Safety Commission without provisions to guarantee its independence and impartiality,” the statement said.

Chapter 3 imposes restrictions on online communication of certain statements, many of which are vague and overbroad, leaving room for executive control and the curtailing of legitimate criticism and dissent that are basic features of democracy, the statement said.

“The laws granting wide discretion to the executive and its investigative agencies with expansive reach have been misused in the past.”

The Council said that the bill was not drafted with the process of public consultation and discussion, which might have ensured the bill would be less draconian in nature.

“The National Christian Council of Sri Lanka calls upon the government to withdraw this anti-human rights and anti-democratic bill immediately.” (Colombo/Sep30/2023)

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Sri Lanka to implement new vehicle revenue licence issuing system

ECONOMYNEXT – A new system of issuing vehicle licences called eRL 2.0 is to be implemented in 5 provinces, excluding the Western Province, from 3 October onwards.

The new system is to be implemented beginning in the North West, South, North Central, Central and Sabaragamuwa provinces, respectively. The existing vehicle licence issuing system eRL 1.0 will continue to be used in the Western Province.

The issuing of revenue licences islandwide at Department of Motor Traffic head offices and regional branches will be temporarily halted on October 2.

The facility of obtaining vehicle permits online will also be temporarily halted on 6 October till midnight.

The Sri Lanka Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA) and the Provincial Motor Traffic Departments are working to modernize the current vehicle revenue license issuance system.

The implementation of the new eRL 2.0 system is expected to be an important step in the digitalisation of Sri Lanka. (Colombo/Sep30/2023)

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Sri Lankan Airlines flights cancelled as aircraft grounded

ECONOMYNEXT – State-run SriLankan Airlines has apologized to passengers who were stranded as multiple aircraft were grounded at the same time.

The airline said it has strict procedures which requires aircraft to be grounded when technical issues are discovered.

“Unfortunately, in this case we suffered a number of groundings at the same time,” the airline said.

“We apologize for the disruption and inconvenience caused and assure all our loyal customers that we are working diligently to minimize such occurrences moving forward.”

The airline said it was booking passengers on other airlines while some have been accommodated at hotels. (Colombo/Sept30/2023)

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