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CASA holds 52nd Annual General Meeting


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CASA Treasurer Shehara Jayawardena, Ports and Shipping Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe, CASA Chairman Ruwan Waidyarathne, SLPA Chairman Dr. Parakrama Dissanayake, CASA Vice Chairman Iqram Cuttilan and CASA Secretary General Ralph Anandappa

 

The Ceylon Association of Shipping Agents (CASA), the apex body that represents shipping in Sri Lanka, held its 52nd Annual General Meeting on 25 July at the Balmoral hall of The Kingsbury Hotel amidst a large gathering of over 400 participants. 

Ports and Shipping Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe graced the occasion as the Chief Guest and Sri Lanka Ports Authority Chairman Dr. Parakrama Dissanayake attended as Guest of Honour. Ports and Shipping Deputy Minister Nishantha Muthuhettigama, Secretary to the Ministry L.P. Jayampathy and many other distinguished invitees from the public and private sectors were also present.

Hayleys Advantis Ltd. Managing Director Ruwan Waidyaratne was re-elected for the second consecutive year as the Chairman for the period 2018/2019 whilst Aitken Spence Shipping Ltd. Director/CEO Iqram Cuttilan and McLarens Shipping Ltd. Joint Managing Director Shehara Jayawardena were elected Vice Chairman and Treasurer respectively.

The Executive Committee elected for the period 2018/2019 comprises Marine International Agencies Ltd., Asha Shipping Ltd., Ceyline Agencies Ltd., Ceylon Shipping Corporation Ltd., BTL Lanka Ltd., Hemas Maritime Ltd., Malship (Ceylon) Ltd., Simatech Marine Lanka Ltd. and ABC Shipping Ltd.

Expediting the East Container Terminal, the need of the hour

Speaking at the event, Widyaratne emphasised the importance of increasing capacity by investing in port infrastructure, highlighting the urgent need of expediting the operations of the East Container Terminal.  

“With more and more new generation ships rolling out, we can anticipate greater demand for deep water terminals. Therefore, we appeal to the authorities to make use of this opportunity by expediting the operations of the East Terminal as soon as possible,” he stated.

He further highlighted the importance and urgency of digitalisation to improve the Ease of Doing Business and facilitating trade in Sri Lanka, mentioned that CASA supported many initiatives of digitalisation such as the E vessel clearance, National Single Window, National Trade Information Portal and many other Paperless initiatives introduced by the Government. 

He stated: “The competitiveness of Sri Lankan firms depends on their ability to get products to international markets in a timely and cost-effective manner. To this end, improving access, enabling infrastructure, cutting down costly and burdensome trade-related procedures and simplified and transparent processes are some of the essential factors involved.” He explained how CASA provided a leadership role by addressing matters of concern at a policy level and in matters affecting the day-to-day operations of member companies. He also stated that representatives from CASA played an important role in drafting and formulating the maritime policy under the direction of the Minister of Ports and Shipping and the Chairman of Sri Lanka Ports Authority. He also explained the importance of the Shipping Industry and stated that the transportation and logistics industry alone accounted for 9% of the country’s GDP which is over $ 9 billion. 



“Cargo transportation accounts for a large portion even after we discount the earnings of passenger transportation and related services,” he said. 

He stated that although many parties tried to portray a false picture of relaxing the foreign ownership policy on shipping agency business as the one solution to make Sri Lanka a maritime hub, CASA as an industry body enlightened the Government on the actual requirements for making Sri Lanka a true maritime hub. 

“We highlighted that although almost all aspects of shipping and logistics could be fully owned and operated by foreigners, it was issues like policy inconsistency, delays in port capacity expansion, low ranking in the Ease of Doing Business, delays in simplifying the Customs Ordinance and a lack of automation that has discouraged investment in this sector.”  

During his speech he congratulated the Sri Lanka Ports Authority, SAGT and CICT for recording 6.2 million container throughput last year and also welcomed the initiative taken by the Ministry of Ports and Shipping and the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) to ensure that terminals work in collaboration with each other. 

He also thanked all government institutions and other stakeholders in both the government and private sectors and mentioned the support he received from past chairmen, office-bearers, the Executive Committee and the CASA Secretary General. 

Embracing change

Speaking at the event the Guest of Honour Dr. Parakrama Dissanayake emphasised the importance of embracing change. In his speech he highlighted that the total global ship board capacity was 21.9 million TEUs and the top 5 carriers would control over 80% of this capacity very soon. Bringing an example from a leading shipping line, he stated that the operating profit of this line had reduced from $ 75/TEU in 2015 to $ 35 / TEU in 2017. With these performances he predicts that the landscape of carrier partnerships will change where there will be no need for alliances in the future.

He highlighted that all large shipping lines are ordering more ships which will further increase capacity, creating a surplus. He also said that half of the bookings are handled manually and with disruptive technologies such as block chain, if all bookings can be automated, the role of shipping agents would be challenged. 

He also commended CASA for facing the test of time and adapting to changes successfully. He reflected back on the year 2001 where he was the Spokesperson for CASA when the Port of Colombo was subjected to an additional war risk premium and remembered how the association fought against this. 

Protecting local entrepreneurs

Minister Samarasinghe stated that encouraging local entrepreneurs with special consideration to SMEs was a top priority of the Government and it is always discussed at the National Economic Council. In his remarks the Minister stated that CASA was a vibrant and important organisation to the Sri Lankan economy and the Government accepted and acknowledged it. 

“This contribution has been built over time by representing your principals efficiently and wining their confidence. All of you represent Sri Lankan companies and have built this industry through your blood, sweat and tears,” he said. 

He stated that CASA members had earned foreign exchange and reinvested in Sri Lanka to build the shipping and logistics industry over the years. 

Speaking of liberalization, the Minister mentioned that the President was of the firm belief that nothing should be done without consulting CASA and its members whose dedication had brought the industry to its current standing. 

“The companies who are interested in investing should underscore their bona fides to prove that they are bringing substantial investment to the economy. We are open for discussion on this model,” he said. 

He went on to elaborate that intention was not to sabotage the open economic model but to ask foreign companies to bring in a minimum investment without compromising Sri Lanka’s sovereignty and national interest. 

Speaking on monopolization, he said that global shipping lines were free to choose their agents in Sri Lanka and they would do so after careful consideration of the performance of the agents. He said that the Government did not want to intervene in such decisions as it was a decision which should be made by the shipping lines and the agents should compete with each other based on their strengths.  

Speaking on the developments in the ports sector, he mentioned that the East Container Terminal would be operational this year and categorically stated that it will be owned and operated by the Sri Lanka Ports Authority as a State-owned Enterprise. 

He said that the West Container Terminal was open for a public-private partnership and that he would request for a feasibility study to be undertaken shortly. He also provided a brief on the development plan in the port sector which was beneficial for all the participants.

CINEC scholarships

In recognition of the long association between CINEC and CASA, two full scholarships in the Professional Diploma in Shipping Management program were awarded to Ashwani Dissanayake and Kajini Ediriweera. The recipients were selected on the basis of their performance at the CASA Basic Ship Agency Functions Course – 26th Batch.

The Ceylon Association of Shipping Agents (CASA), is the voice of the shipping industry of Sri Lanka and has served the industry with unwavering focus and dedication. Its members represent all international shipping lines who call Sri Lankan Ports due to its very strategic location in close proximity to the main international shipping lanes. 

Through regular dialogue with partners, Government institutions, regulatory  bodies and agencies, CASA seeks to effect an interchange of ideas and information, represent and advocate the views of the association in all official forums and shape the future of the industry by investing in education and training for its members and working with maritime training academies to train seafarers.

 


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