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04th July 2017

Speech by Outgoing Chairman Mr. Sean Van Dort at the SLSC Post Business Session of 47th Annual General Meeting

Speech by Outgoing Chairman Mr. Sean Van Dort

Our guest of honor Dr Harash de Silva past chairman of the Sri Lanka shippers council the executive committee, members heads of government agencies and fellow colleagues..

Welcome to the post business session of its 47 AGM. The council since its inception has been in the for front to protect the shipper of this county.

I consider it a privilege to have given leadership to this council for the past 3 years and thank the council and its executive committee for standing by the values that this council was established.

I am still willing and able to head this council, but with respect to its constitution I have just stepped down. Even though hanging on to power these days seems to be the fashion or was, I am sure that the new Chairman and the executive committee will keep up the good work.

There was a significant brake through in 2013 when the Government of Sri Lanka after much consideration, based on the golden rule that you can only charge any cost for a service rendered to the contracting party, implemented the Gazette preventing such charge been forced on non-contacting party

Successive governments were filled with fear by vested interest that if they brought in such regulations ships will stop calling Colombo, but look at the situation today, since 2013 ships calls have increased along with its operations. I must thank the bravery of government for these actions.

There was and is still a strong lobby by some vested interest to revert to the old ways where they can milk there shippers from both ends, many an article has been seen too support these regulations. This regulations were the war cry of the council.

Today I hold in my hand documentary proof where some service providers hiding behind a newly formed association had debited each other additional cost violating government rules, while also collecting charges from origin ports, so now they are cheating their own kind.....

And I wish to quote a line from this communication that was sent to me by a country first citizen of the service provider.

Quote,

"In addition you have given exorbitant delivery order charges while collecting destination cost on this CIF shipment at load port, you need to acknowledge our seniors and offer concessions , if he goes to the Director Merchant shipping then it's a huge blow to our Association at this hour.....

We intend to submit these documents as more Prof to the DMS that such unethical trade practices are still prevalent in the industry. We must strength the hand of the Director Merchant shipping to ensure our shippers are protected from such blood sucking parasites.

We thank the Government today for regain GSP+ to Sri Lanka, and believe the challenge of benefiting from the schemes has already been taken up by the the exporters of this country.

Dr Harsha you were very vociferous of the corruption in politics over the years, let me tell you that the shipping and freight market is all corrupt to its core. From Managing directors to shipping executives robbing from their own companies by ways of kickbacks. It's seems only a hand full of service providers really go out to canvas business on service and quality in its deliveries. Trust me I have worked on each sides of the industry, and I have seen the GOOD, the BAD & the UGLY..

We were promised a single window to carry out our day to day work for the last 25 odd years, seems like it's gone through the back door.

All the discussions are mere talk shops, I urge this Government to expedite the process to make this a reality, and this will bring down our transaction cost, and give us competitive advantages and speed to promote our products. Export or perish is the cry..

Mr Minister we were involved with the Sri Lanka customs in establishing the Export facilitation center, we agreed to pay more charges to the government for the sake of speed and time, however I am aware that until recently there was great pressure from the Ministry of finance to the customs to provide a negative report so that this center could be scraped and some vested interest could Benefit from such an operation.. Given the changes that have now taken place all seems good.

I must recall & thank the help & assistance of Mr. Jagath P Wijeweera the past Director General of Customs and his team along with the present Director General of customs & his team for standing by the trade and not bowing down to such uncouth pressure for which the export community is ever grateful.

Today we have a world class export facilitation center unlike anything found in this part of the world, and we are proud of it.

We have worked with the Si Lanka customs on e- documentation and it has seen its benefits to the trade ,however there is still a long journey ,the customs ICT division in ever willing and able but we require the commitment of the Government at least to make this possible by the end of this year. To do this draconian laws of the customs ordinance, the Ports authority acts must be looked at strongly with willingness to change.

The Sri Lanka shippers council calls for a total liberalization of the maritime sector, where age old walls have to be brought down ,if as an island a nation we are to benefit much more from the Maritime sector.

Our terminals are privatized so what's the fear, there will still be agency networks required to handle ships and husbanding requirements.

Sri Lanka may be one of the only countries who implement tariffs on its exports, our struggling tea industry is charged by the authorities Rs4/= per KG and Rs10/= kg on bulk shipments as CESS. We urge the government to look in to this and bring about a solution to such actions,

On top of this the tea board also collects additional charges for a development fund.. This was supposed to be used for promotions and marketing, what has happened to these collections is questioned. While our exporters have to also incur additional charges of promoting and advertising Sri Lankan tea.

I have had the saddest experience when visiting the Free ports in the Middle East, where blended teas are processed and shipped out of a desert, where not a single tea bush is found... Here again for the benefit of shot sited few the country lost out such blending centrers and thousands of jobs

The infrastructure in the port was developed for ship handling, however every one forgot about the backyard operations…. Today our importers suffer with cargo damages, loss of cargo at container destuffing points, corruption at all leaves. In Oder to expedite their clearing process happy money seems to be the only way out.

We as a council usage the Government and authorities to look in to these concerns and bring about speed change, on process and systems that will benefit this country.

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