Liberalization of shipping sector is necessary to achieve the Vision 2025 objective of creating a knowledge-based, highly competitive social market economy at the centre of the Indian Ocean, Policy Planning and Economic Development Deputy Minister Dr Harsha de Silva said.
The Deputy Minister, speaking at the Committee Stage debate of Budget 2018 in Parliament yesterday when the Finance Heads of Ports and Shipping Ministry were taken up, said the Government, as a policy, is in favour of liberalization.
“Today we have a multi-polar world. In the next 25-50 years, wealth will be created in the countries surrounding the Indian Ocean. Countries like India, China, Bangladesh, Vietnam and Myanmar are rapidly growing. We must make sure we are well-positioned to leverage the growing wealth creation in this part of the world. We cannot miss this chance as we did many times in the past,” said the deputy minister.
“Even 2,500 years ago Sri Lanka was part of the Spice Route and our cinnamon found its way to European countries. The Portuguese, Dutch and English arrived in our country to use the country as a trading hub,” he added.
He said Sri Lanka’s international trade has dropped considerably over the past years as our transaction costs are comparatively high.
“As the existing laws and minimum rates have been fixed without any basis of competition, we have been unable to attract large shipping lines to the country. Association of Tea Exporters and Sri Lanka Export Association have spoken in favour of the budget proposal to fully open up the shipping sector. They believe it will bring down their export costs and thereby they will be able to be more competitive in the world market. On the other hand, the Ceylon Association of Shipping Agents has spoken against the move raising concerns of losing their business. The Government will discuss with the shipping agents and arrive at a decision,” he said.
“Several giant shipping lines have expressed their interest in improving their footprint in Sri Lanka. We cannot sustain ourselves just by transshipment. We have to have cargo destined to Sri Lanka. We must be able to add ourselves to global production networks,” he noted.
Sources : dailyNews