PORTS Chairman Addresses National Chamber Members

A Seminar/Forum on “Shipping Procedures, issues and the Way Forward “ organized by the National Chamber of Commerce was held at the chamber auditorium recently.. The keynote speaker was, Dr Priyath Wickrama Chairman of the Sri Lanka Ports Authority. The other speaker was Director General Customs Mr Jagath P Wijeweera . The seminar was well attended and had a full house.
 

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Dr Priyath Wickrama’s speech


As you are aware, according to the latest publication issued by the World Shipping Council, in terms of capacity Port of Colombo has reached the 21st position among the top 50 world container ports. Today with the total capacity of around 6.8 million TEUs, port of Colombo acts as the transshipment port for the potentially vast markets of the Indian sub continent resulting a dramatic change the container supply chains in the region. I am strongly of the view that container throughput could be further increased by attracting approximately One Million TEUs from Chittagong to Colombo which is directly on westbound Asia-Europe Trade route. This may offer exporters of Bangladesh and importers of the Europe reduced shipping cost, whilst strengthening Sri Lanka’s position as a shipping hub in the regions.

I consider the topic “Role of SLPA to make Sri Lanka the most preferred shipping Destination” would be ideal for discussion in this afternoon.

 Sri Lanka Ports Authority has the mandate to develop, promote, maintain, operate and manage all seaports in Sri Lanka. Our corporate objectives are to develop and maintain state-of-the-art facilities and provide cost effective, efficient, and reliable service to achieve maximum customer satisfaction.

 In order to optimize utilization of existing infrastructure facilities, the need of proper equipment maintenance and replacement plan was identified. SLPA has upgraded its equipment fleet with modern Container handling equipment and introduced most comprehensive terminal management system to its terminals. This capital investment has brought in benefits by way of enhanced productivity and better performance for valued customers. With a view of continuous development of the port infrastructure, with the purpose of facilitating the latest class of vessels, 3 new container terminals are planned to build under Colombo Port Expansion Project and South container terminal is already operational.

Each of these container terminals will add 2.4 Million TEUs to Port of Colombo per annum. East Container Terminal is being developed by SLPA to handle triple-E class container vessels with faster turn round time. Phase one of the ECT will be operational by end of 2014 with deep draught berth and high profile sophisticated container handling equipment. Based on the container volume growth of Indian Subcontinent and Port of Colombo, the proposals will call for the construction of WEST Container Terminal under CPEP. Hambantota, MRMR Port is being developed as a service, industrial and multipurpose port to provide world class infrastructure for manufacturing and other maritime services. The MRMR Port will have facilities to handle break bulk, dry bulk, liquid bulk and containerized cargo with an oil tank farm to service the vessels sailing on the East West Shipping route. Infrastructure facilities in the regional ports such as Galle, Trincomalee, KKS and Oluvil are also being developed for assisting the regional development.

 The policy of the Sri Lanka Ports Authority :

is to keep abreast of the latest technological avenues in shipping and ports industries. Such a policy is required to ensure trade facilitation and cargo movement efficiently and rapidly. This has helped to serve global services in the most efficient and secure manner. This is the reason for us to assign priority and importance towards expeditious development of necessary infrastructure and service requirements. We are taking all steps to ensure continuity and dedication towards realizing the goal of making Sri Lanka the most competitive and preferred shipping centre in the region. Six lane internal port road connecting all terminals and the port access roads will facilitate smooth and effective movement of vehicular traffic and ensure faster turn round time of trucks.

Dry Port at Peliyagoda

Steps are being taken to set up a dry port at Peliyagoda with rail and road connectivity to facilitate port users with services such as handling of MCC cargo, bonding of cargo, consolidation of export cargo, delivery of LCL cargo under One Stop Service Centre. This will also ease the traffic at Colombo city centres .

 SLPA IT Based Systems

to provide efficient services in Finance, Logistic services, Import and Export container movements which gives a lot of comfort for port users.

In order to ensure hassle free, customer friendly, accident free environment, SLPA has introduced advanced access control along with mandatory use of personnel protective safety equipment whilst at work, strict traffic rules, contingency plans in emergency situations etc. SLPA has taken cognizance in introducing renewable energy with solar and wind in energy mix to meet the energy requirements of the expanded port facilities. We have set up free zones in Colombo and MRMR Ports and provide facilities for manufacturing warehousing etc. within these free zones.

Port Operations in Par with International Standards

Whilst capital development projects are being implemented to enhance capacity with facilities for handling any type of vessels by way of infrastructure development; customer friendly, higher quality port services comply with internationally accepted standards have been introduced by streamlining port procedures and systems. Round the clock banking facilities, Electronic Data Interchange systems and several other customers friendly services are implemented to attract the investors. Fully automated document handling system replaced inherited manual practices used in the past. This has resulted in accuracy, cost controls, effectiveness of services, enhanced efficiency and productivity in addition to creating a transparent environment with increased accountability. We are committed to provide real time cargo clearing system by introducing arrangements to submit shipping documents electronically without visiting various service points of the Port. With parallel to that, Sri Lanka Customs also initiated EDI system, ASYCUDA enabling the E-document transfer facilities. Therefore, Port users are now in a position to effect payment of port charges through the Banks of their choice. This improvement has saved valuable time and money along with avoiding cumbersome procedures. Desirable results will be achieved with upgraded cargo delivery systems by shipping lines, cargo operators and port users. Shipping electronic data and future E-solutions ensuring speedy cargo deliveries are being introduced. SLPA has allocated a separate area at the Jaya Container Terminal to stack FCL containers to ensure expeditious delivery of FCL containers from the Port.

Policy Framework

The Government of Sri Lanka has introduced a supportive policy framework with the intervention at the right place, right time and with the right spirit in order to protect interest of trade, industries and other service sectors in the economy. Under the Finance act 12 of 2012, favorable financial regulations have been set up towards shipping services and activities, specially for the Freeport, bonded area, entreport and so on which will contribute the national economy. Generally, the main focus on fiscal policy has been to create an environment that will enable the economy to move along a sustainable high growth path. Low tax and a simplified tax system have resulted in streamlining tax procedures to create a tax payer friendly environment. We need to appreciate the authorities for understanding the rationale and bringing about the regulatory mechanism to bring transparency which the world has now accepted and given credibility. We are confident that supportive policies of the Government would empower and enable Sri Lankan entrepreneurs to reach expected targets of turnover in diversified sectors of the economy.

The Sri Lankan economy

is recording an 8 percent growth. A Higher growth has been observed in the industrial and service sectors. This reflects the strength in the domestic economic activities showingincreased exports and gradual recovery in the global economy. The rapidly changing world scenario has brought into focus on countries such as China, India and other fast developing countries as economic power houses highlighting their dominance in- world trade. It is opportune for developing countries especially in the Asian region like Sri Lanka to exploit benefits through engaging in trading with such countries particularly related to the export of product and services. This may attract entrepreneurs of those countries for investment in diversified projects inSri Lanka. As far as per capita income is concerned Western, Southern, Northern and Eastern provinces respectively have reported the highest per capita income. It appears that there is direct impact on per capita income of provinces with the port activities. Port of Colombo is located in the Western Province, MRMR Port and the port of Galle in the Southern Province, Port of KKS in the Northern Province and the Ports of Trincomalee and Oluvil in the Eastern Province.

According to the findings of the Annual Labor Force surveys, benefits that have been accrued with the creation of highest number of new employment are reported from the Western, Southern, Northern and Eastern provinces respectively. We are of the view that the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) between India and Sri Lanka and free trade agreement with China could be negotiated for the benefit of Sri Lanka and her business community.

 Investment Opportunity

The Ministry of Investment promotion has confirmed entering into new agreements to attract investors to the export processing zones at Katunayake, Biyagama, Koggala, Seethawaka and Mirijjawila resulting increases in imports and exports through the seaports. Mirijjawila export processing zone has received 42 business applications to set up ventures at the Zone which is situated in close proximity to MRMR port and Mahinda Rajapakse International air port.

 FDI

Foreign direct investments in Sri Lanka have registered a significant growth and we are confident that Sri Lanka will be able to reach the set FDI targets.

Development in par with CPEP and MRMR

Industrialization projects in par with the CPEP project and MRMR Port have been introduced with short term, medium term and long term plans to bring economic prosperity to the nation. Members of the shipping community are aware of the economic benefits which are being reaped with these massive development projects. SLPA has taken initiative towards Development of FTZs around major ports in Sri Lanka. Free-trade zones are organized around major seaports, international airports, and national frontiers—areas with many geographic advantages for trade. Mattala International Air Port with collaboration with Hambantota MRMR Port and Developing Colombo Port with Bandaranayake international Airport will create open up new chapter for economic developments in Sri Lanka. Furthermore the enhanced frequent multimodal connectivity with highways sea and air ports will compromise minimum cost solution for the investors. Sri Lankan Government has agreed to reduce or eliminate trade barriers within these FTZs. SLPA is expecting these FTZs to be labor-intensive manufacturing centers that involve the import of raw materials or components and the export of factory products. These FTZ will open up to investors in adding value to products and services, which will create new opportunities for business ventures. Such as packaging, warehousing, re-exporting, labeling, entreport, manufacturing, mass production, researching and many other permitted value addition activities.

Tourist Attraction

Tropical climate, attractive tourist spots, comfortable atmosphere and high natural inheritance are some of the key factors that attract tourists to Sri Lanka. It has been emphasized that Sri Lanka should focus more on promotions and improve convenience of tourists along with developing infrastructure required for green tourism, health tourism and sport tourism. SLPA has already taken essential steps in developing infrastructure in all the major ports to attract tourists to the country and with those developments vast investment opportunities have been generated.

Colombo port is equipped with a Passenger Terminal which currently is a highly attracting point for the cruises and passenger vessels. With the upcoming port city development project, investment opportunities will be available for the exquisite hotels, yacht marina and several entertainment agendas. Galle Port has been developed with a Yacht Marina and there are ample investment opportunities related to Whale Watching, Natural Coral Observing and Underwater Diving within and outside the port. Hambantota Port will generate investment prospects via developing a delicate passenger terminal and Lotus Island which will focus on more tourist attraction to the country. With the increasing passenger arrivals through Mattala airport, surrounding wild life and other entertainment related projects can be utilized in developing the tourism industry. Moreover, investors can engage in the businesses directly related to tourism within those ports such as cruise line maintenance, crew changes, internal transportation, arranging accommodation and etc.

Investor Friendly Environment

With the expedite developments taking place as expressed throughout, many investment opportunities will be available for investors to enthusiastically engage in investing for the maritime services related business agendas in all three ports. Mainly, there are emerging opportunities for offshore operations such as Ship repair and Ship building. It is possible to eyeing for offshore ship repair business parallel to the oil exploration off the northern east coast. Moreover, a profitable venture for ship repair and small crafts building can be set up via establishing a dockyard in Hambantota port since, shipping lines are expecting to bare minimum cost to obtain superior service in less possible time, which is an absolute realization with the strategic location and services oriented framework within the Hambantota port.

Providing crew changing services, Supplying of Ship’s requirements such as water and food are other important prospects for investments which are available in Colombo, Galle and Hambantota ports with the new developments took place recently. The newly inaugurated oil tank farm will attract more vessels for bunkering and opportunities will be made available to entrepreneurs to engage in providing ship supplies such as vegetables, fruits, medical supplies etc. Holders of bunker license could supply bunkers for seagoing vessels sailing on the East West shipping route. Opportunities will be created to provide logistics facilities to port users as new business ventures. It is not only the direct investment opportunities but, there are many possible indirect investment opportunities generated with this developing agenda of ports and shipping such as marine insurance, banking and financial services, establishing training institutes pertaining to shipping trade, developing seafarers and etc.

Other Infrastructure Development
Government of Sri Lanka, Ministry of Ports and Shipping and Sri Lanka Ports Authority have taken all potential steps to develop infrastructure and other supportive frameworks to ensure high quality service for all the stakeholders while enabling vast investment opportunities for local and international markets, which is a pre-requisite of developing Sri Lanka as the preferred maritime destination. Therefore, with all the aforementioned favorable conditions for investments, we are confident that not only Sri Lanka Ports Authority can take the initiative but other relevant public sector establishments, interested entrepreneurs, private sector parties and investors in Sri Lanka could join hands in investing for the numerous development and services oriented projects which will guarantee attractive returns. That will ultimately enable the global players to set up joint ventures and contribute in various services hubs created within Sri Lanka in future.

So, Ladies and Gentlemen, I am proud to say, today we are in the true course of sailing towards being the maritime hub of South Asia-unquote

Director General of Customs Mr Jagath Wijeweera opening his speech said that this programme is very timely and needed by the Industry. Customs is working hand in hand with SLPA to give the best service to its clients. He said The online cargo clearance system and 'Asycuda World' would be launched for operations after the trials are completed. According to him 'Asycuda World' has successfully mitigated corruption to a great extent, but that the Customs was still not 100% corruption proof. "Sri Lanka Customs hopes to introduce a 'Single Window' platform next year further reducing delay, and paving the way for a paperless environment thereby reducing corruption and speeding up approvals," said Wijeweera

Written by Super User