Lanka needs foreign, local expertise for Port development - Nalaka Godahewa | Sunday Observer
“Country alone cannot handle cargo business”

Lanka needs foreign, local expertise for Port development - Nalaka Godahewa

14 February, 2021

Sri Lanka must include private and foreign terminal operators when it comes to Port related development, State Minister of Urban Development, Coast Conservation, Waste Disposal and Community Cleanliness, Dr. Nalaka Godahewa said on Friday.

The main reason that Port related development needs foreign technical expertise is because cargo is a global business and a single country without global network/connections cannot succeed. “This is very important when it comes to terminal management. The Port management mainly due to security and other logistic reasons can be kept with the Government.”

He said that unfortunately, the Hambantota Port which was built with long term plans cannot be administered by the Government as its ownership was given to a foreign operator and the development of the Trincomalee Port has issues owing to the 13th Amendment and Provincial Councils while the terminal development at the Galle Harbour is limited owing to geographical reasons. Hence, the development focus falls on the Colombo Port where the Government has 100 percent ownership. It was also disclosed that even India is privatising airports and Ports and of its 13 Ports 12 have been leased out to private parties and Adani Ports and SEZ Ltd is India’s largest integrated ports and logistics company. “Sri Lanka has a huge international debt servicing burden and the way to overcome it is by attracting more Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs).” One must remember that Sri Lanka is not the only country for investors and, therefore, they should be given competitive terms when bringing in FDIs. Hence, the country needs to have a different mindset. Attracting FDIs do not mean selling the country’s assets but simply bringing in investment and technology to add value to local assets from private and foreign parties. “The intellectuals too should spread this message that attracting foreign FDIs is not a crime.”

Shipping industry expert, Rohan Masakorala said that the Sri Lanka Port development should move to a globally acclaimed ‘Landlord model Port System’ where the Government will be the caretaker or will be singled out from the world. He said that globally around 80 percent of cargo business is handled by private companies while Governments directly handle only around 20 percent business and this number too is reducing fast. “If you don’t have international connections ships would not come from ‘Government only’ operated ports.”