From left: CMTA Immediate Past Chairman Reeza Rauf, CMTA Senior Vice Chairman Yaseendra Amerasinghe, CMTA Chairman Sheran Fernando, the CCC Secretariat Rohan Casiechetty and CMTA Vice Chairman Niranga Pieris
Pic by Samantha Perera
- Seeks assistance from Ceylon Chamber, WB, ADB and research agencies
- Says Lankan automotive industry faces inevitable disruption from int’l developments
- Expects that this initiative to create alignment among int’l developments, government policies, and unpredictable regulatory environment
By Nishel Fernando
The Ceylon Motor Traders Association (CMTA) is to formulate a future mobility plan for Sri Lanka with the assistance of Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, World Bank, Asian Development Bank (ADB) and a few internationally-renowned research agencies to develop a sustainable automotive industry in Sri Lanka.
“If we can get the government to accept this plan, it can be our means of holding them accountable to work within a framework created by the industry and industry experts,” CMTA Chairman Sheran Fernando told its members during its 99th Annual General Meeting (AGM) last Friday.
CMTA has already initiated discussions with industry groups, World Bank, ADB, research agencies and government authorities seeking assistance and input to carry out
As the automotive industry faces inevitable disruption stemming from international developments such as ride sharing and driverless cars, he stressed that Sri Lanka cannot lag behind and hence said CMTA decided to initiate the discussions to formulate a long-term mobility plan for the country cementing its role as the voice of the country’s automotive sector. “For an example when you are talking about driverless cars, there are many elements in the country that need to get in place in order to be ready for the change that is imminent.
“Speaking of electric cars, we have to set-up charging centres and consider what the regulations are going to be on these charging stations,” he elaborated.
Fernando urged CMTA membership to get prepared for the looming disruptions which would require re-evaluating their existing business models.
He noted that the end user may not be necessarily their customer moving forward.
Further, it is also anticipated that the disruption would have a noticeable impact on the after sales revenue of CMTA members.
“The state is set for disruptions, you may not like it, but it’s inevitable,” he insisted.
Despite traffic congestion has been identified as a key issue by the government, Fernando lamented that the country’s road network has not expanded during last 2-3 years with infrastructure projects getting postponed.
However, the projects funded by the World Bank, ADB and the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) are expected to reduce the traffic congestion while expanding the road network.
“The ADB is funding roads and development of public transport. The MCC is putting US $200 million into traffic management which should begin this year.
The World Bank is very much interested in the activation of automotive space; they are looking at public-private partnerships with focus very much on public transport,” he noted.
The CMTA expects that this initiative will create the much-needed alignment among international developments, government policies, and increased duties on vehicle imports and unpredictable regulatory environment.
Predicts bleak outlook for vehicle imports during next 2 years
CMTA has predicted a bleak outlook for vehicle imports during next two years, driven mainly by an economic slowdown.
Amidst sluggish economic outlook, CMTA Chairman Sheran Fernando expects the government to limit foreign exchange used to import vehicles. “Probably for next two years, the government is not going to have too much funds to support the importation of cars.
It’s a sad reality and it’s a reality that we have to contend with for the past 15 years. It’s going to be another difficult period,” he stressed.
The industry has already been impacted by tepid consumer demand due to the economic slowdown.
Fernando noted that 2018/2019 has been a very challenging period compared to previous years.
He said in addition to that the prevalent political uncertainty further worsens market sentiments.