Maritime and Logistics national policy aims at ‘global maritime hub’ status | Sunday Observer

Maritime and Logistics national policy aims at ‘global maritime hub’ status

Secretary to the Ministry of Ports and Shipping and Southern Development, Dr Parakrama Dissanayake presents the final draft of the National Policy for Maritime and Logistics Sectors to Minister of Ports and Shipping and Southern Development, Sagala Ratnayaka. Chairman, Sri Lanka Ports Authority Kavan Ratnayaka; Managing Director Capt. Athula Hewawitharana, Director General, Merchant Shipping, A. W. Seneviratne,  Chief Executive Officer, Laugfs Terminals Ltd., H D.A.S. Premachandra, Additional Secretary (Development), Ports and Shipping and Southern Development Ministry, K. N. Kumari Somarathne, Additional Secretary (Admin and Finance) Ministry of Ports and Shipping and Southern Development, H. M. L. S. Herath, Group Joint Managing Director of McLarens Group, Shehara Jayawardana, Chairman, CASS, Saliya Senanayake and SAGT CEO Romesh David look on.

The final draft of the National Policy for Maritime and Logistics Sectors was presented to Minister of Ports and Shipping and Southern Development, Sagala Ratnayaka by Ministry Secretary Dr. Parakrama Dissanayake at the Ministry last week.

The policy was drafted by a committee comprising experts on maritime affairs chaired by Dr. Dissanayake.

Around 80 stakeholders participated during the formulation of the policy.

While valuing and appreciating the efforts of all parties involved in drafting this comprehensive and comparative policy on the maritime sector, the Minister called for a feedback from interested parties. He has ensured the promulgation of the national policy.

Minister Ratnayaka acknowledged the support of his predecessor, former Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe to the initiative.

Dr. Dissanayake stressed the importance of the national policy and how it will develop the maritime affairs of the country.

The hundred-and-fifty page document details the strategies, action and the coordinating role of each party while addressing the urgent needs of the maritime and logistics sectors in Sri Lanka.

It addresses several areas including, Ports and related infrastructure, Development of maritime related services, Ships, ship owning, ship and crew management, shipping and NVOCC agency, coastal shipping, development of logistics and intermodal infrastructure, harmonisation of regulatory framework, maritime safety, security, marine pollution prevention, maritime training; promotion of small and medium scale enterprises in the sector and restrictive practices.

One of the aims of the policy is to “encourage sustainable port development to cater to long-term growth in imports and exports and transshipment by sea, with a competitive and efficient port industry meeting the needs of importers and exporters in a cost-effective and timely manner, contributing to long-term economic growth,” Dr. Dissanayake said, quoting the draft of the policy document.

The vision of the national policy reads as “become a leading global maritime and logistics hub while maintaining the premier status in regional maritime activity and logistics by affording and facilitating the best technology and convenience to all stakeholders thus facilitating economic growth.”

“Sri Lanka’s maritime and logistics business generates foreign exchange for the country. The sector includes, domestic and transshipment container operations, a range of logistical services, ship repairs, supply of bunkers and ship spares, maritime education and training, logistics and supply chain management. Container operation is the single largest source of foreign exchange,” the policy document stated.

“While some global container hub ports recorded a decline in throughput, Sri Lanka’s main commercial port, the Port of Colombo, showed resilient growth, in the past few years. As a result, last year, the Port of Colombo rose to a higher position in the global container-port league, registering a throughput of over seven million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units). The Port has advanced to occupy a leading position in the world as one of the best-connected ports with over 59 mainline services calling each week, placing it ahead of other regional ports while it was placed marginally behind the world’s leading ports,” the document stated.

According to the policy document, “Major Sri Lankan ports need to transform themselves from ‘regional transshipment hubs’ to ‘global maritime hubs’ to face competition from emerging regional transshipment ports and traditional global competitors. Continued dependence on the Indian subcontinent for a major portion of business will no longer be possible due to emerging regional competition, expansion of direct mainliner services to traditional feeder ports and changes in cabotage laws.”

“One needs to recognise the fact that all major global hubs are relay centres for major shipping lines. The share of relay traffic in global hubs far exceeds the share of hub and spoke transshipment making them less vulnerable to emergence of regional competition.

However, this change will need development of port and logistics facilities well ahead of such demand.

“Sri Lanka has followed a policy of waiting for demand to push before new port/terminal facilities are developed. This policy enabled other regional hubs to overtake Colombo in the past. It is, therefore, necessary to shift the development policy from ‘demand-driven’ to ‘supply-driven’,” the final draft of the National Policy for Maritime and Logistics Sectors has stated.

Chairman of the Sri Lanka Ports Authority, Kavan Ratnayaka was also present.