The budget proposal to open up the shipping industry with the objective of attracting major players to invest in Sri Lanka would not serve any purpose as global players are already engaged in business in the country, joint opposition MP Rohitha Abeygunawardene said yesterday.
“Global players in the shipping industry are already in Sri Lanka and the proposal to remove the laws which restrict the stake a foreign player could hold in a shipping agency in Sri Lanka to 40% will not serve any purpose. Name a foreign shipping company that has not come to Sri Lanka," he said speaking during the committee stage debate in Parliament yesterday.
The MP said the former government also brought a similar proposal to open up the shipping industry but decided to give it up after discussions with local shipping agencies.
“A shipping agency in Sri Lanka can be opened with an investment of Rs.5 million. Is the government trying to open the industry to attract investments worth only that much? It should instead impose a benchmark for investment," he said and added that prior to introducing this proposal, the Finance Ministry should have discussed this matter with the Ministry of Ports and Shipping. (Yohan Perera and Ajith Siriwardana)