Shipping, port and trade experts want the government to implement a national shipping policy to drive growth in the ports and shipping sector. “It is a long felt need for developing trade and boost export earnings of the country,” the industry representatives told the Business Observer.
The industry has made several requests in the past and has also made presentations at various fora which are yet to be considered by the authorities.
Chairman of the Import Section of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce and Member of the National Trade Facilitation Committee Dinesh de Silva said Sri Lanka being an island it is paramount that the country has a firm national policy for shipping industry which will have immense benefit for the country, be it tourism, local goods and passenger transport and for international feeder shipping. “Unfortunately, the policy makers have not been able to set up a national policy on shipping.
“We also need to update the maritime laws in Sri Lanka and liberalize the shipping industry by giving a boost to the ecommerce segment,” he said.
Fellow Member of Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers United Kingdom, Past Chairman Sri Lanka Shippers Council Jayanath Perera said, “We have failed to establish national policies in many sectors including education, transport, information, constitution reforms, elections, poverty elevation, devolution of power and shipping and ports since independence.
“At least now we need to think of setting up a national policy on shipping and adhere to the policy irrespective of the change of the government.”
Shipping industry expert and CEO of the Shippers’ Academy Colombo, Rohan Masakorala said in the absence of a national shipping policy many issues had cropped up in the port sector in the past.
He added that at the recently concluded National Export Strategy symposium, the public and private sector officials and stakeholders discussed some of the key policy issues relating to the shipping as well. Long term vision for maritime and logistics sector to retain Colombo’s position as a Maritime and Logistics Hub in South East Asia had been discussed for decades and the Shippers, Exporters Ships Agents and other stake holders have made strong representations to many previous governments.
However, Masakorale said none of those documents met international standards.