Ports and Shipping Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe said yesterday he was opposed to the budget proposal which opens the shipping industry to international players.
He stressed the need for the Finance Ministry to discuss this proposal with the shipping ministry before implementing it.
The minister who took part in the committee stage debate on the budget said opening of the shipping industry would affect the local players in the industry.
"I am opposed to this proposal as a member of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) which is committed to safeguarding local entrepreneurs," he said and added that even President Maithripala Sirisena was of the view that the local players should be safeguarded.
However, the minister said international investors should be allowed to enter the shipping industry subject to conditions while bring in a prescribed amount of investments.
"However, we are confident that the Finance Minister will look into this matter and make the necessary amendments to the budget proposal," the minister said.
Responding to an allegation made by joint opposition MP Sriyani Wijewickrama that the Hambantota Port Deal was not beneficial to the country, the minister said he managed to convert it into an agreement beneficial to Sri Lanka. He said arrangements had to be made to repay the commercial loan taken by the previous regime to construct the Hambantota Port. (Yohan Perera and Ajith Siriwardana)