Written by Charitha Fernando
22 Feb, 2018 | 2:04 pm
Sri Lanka Ports Authority Chairman, Dr. Parakrama Dissanayake urged the shipping and logistics sector to translate talk into action and actively lobby the government to improve the business climate and to set up a state agency to drive the Island’s hub aspirations in the Indian Ocean.
“Labeling and branding play an important role in achieving your vision. The industry should agitate and tell the government or governments that we need to have a maritime promotion bureau to take it to the next level,” Dissanayake told a seminar titled “Maritime Hub Aspirations of Sri Lanka” organized by the Ceylon Association of Shipping Agents.
“Somebody has to promote the product like the Tourism Promotion Bureau. This role has to be played by the government, not by the private sector,”
“To have an effective maritime promotion bureau you need to have it un-politicized with the qualifications of the Chairman and the Board of Directors legislated, otherwise it will be of no use,” he said.
Dissanayake said while port-related infrastructure is being expanded in Colombo and Hambantota, the industry must push the government to improve the business climate and trade logistics.
Sri Lanka’s poor performance in the ‘2018 Doing Business Index’ and the Logistics Performance Index are key challenges the industry is grappling with.
Sri Lanka slipped one notch to rank 111 out of 190 countries in the World Bank’s ‘2018 Ease of Doing Business Index’ far behind countries like Mauritius and Rwanda.
“What about soft infrastructure? I’ve never seen the industry embarking on ease of doing business,”
“Ease of doing business is so critical, I would urge all of you to push for this cause,” Dissanayake said.
“We talk so much about logistics, but in the Logistics Performance Index, our rank is in late 80s. Despite all its bureaucracy, India’s rank is 35 and even a country like Pakistan, their rank is 68,” Dissanayake said despite Colombo being a transhipment hub for the last 40 years, the industry has failed to move beyond and become a maritime and logistics hub in the Indian Ocean.
Ports Authority is now looking at branding Sri Lanka as a maritime and logistics gateway in the Indian Ocean rather than a hub.
With mega Chinese investments in Colombo and Hambantota, Sri Lanka is expected to play a pivotal role in the Chinese ‘One Belt One Road’ initiative.
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