The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce in a statement yesterday said it appreciated the steps taken to develop the Hambantota Port as a public-private partnership (PPP) as it marks an important step towards the goal of positioning Sri Lanka as a full-service maritime hub nation.
In addition to the much-needed boost to the country’s foreign reserves, the reported scale and size of the investment is expected to generate meaningful FDI in port-related activities as well as businesses around the port.
At a meeting held recently with members of the Ceylon Chamber’s National Agenda Committee on Logistics and Transport and other private sector stakeholders, Minister of Ports and Shipping Mahinda Samarasinghe, Chairman of the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) Dr. Parakrama Dissanayake and SLPA Executive Director H.A. Wimalasoorya briefed attendees on the concession agreement signed for the development of the Hambantota Port. The Minister elaborated on several areas that had been of concern to various stakeholders, including on how the selection of the concessionaire was done, how national interest, prevailing law and security considerations have been addressed, and how the two new companies - Hambantota International Port Group and Hambantota International Port Services - have been structured.
Observing that international rating agencies had been quick to highlight the positive effects of the transaction, industry representatives noted further that the consequent economic benefits arising from a growth in industrial activity would create more employment opportunities in the region and also provide sizable impetus to propel growth in the maritime-related services and logistics sectors around the Port of Hambantota.
The chamber now expects the implementation of the agreement to be effected in a manner that will serve the best interests of the country. Later this month the chamber is convening a seminar for its members with key officials on the subject of the Hambantota Port development. The seminar will provide an opportunity to hear more details and seek clarifications on the obligations assumed under the agreement and the plans for implementation.
While recognising the circumstances in which this PPP deal was required to be finalised, the chamber urged the Government to ensure that the principle of collective responsibility is respected so as to inspire confidence in the final decision made.
Sri Lanka needs to enhance its reputation as a business destination that has a credible and predictable investment regime. This imperative is challenged when seemingly conflicting sentiments are expressed by responsible Government sources, the chamber stated.
The National Agenda Committee on Logistics and Transport comprises leaders in the private and public sector with experience in the maritime, shipping and logistics sectors. Since last year, the NAC has been continuously lobbying to fast-track the development of the East Container Terminal (ECT) and the development of an e-hub for trade facilitation, all aimed at boosting Sri Lanka’s position and status as a vibrant hub.
This committee is part of five National Agenda Committees functioning as thought leadership groups at the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, developing insights and advocacy on key strategic economic themes. To know more about the Ceylon Chamber’s National Agenda Committees initiative, visit the ‘Policy and Advocacy’ section of the chamber’s website www.chamber.lk and to read the chamber’s recommendations on the ECT, visit the ‘Submissions to Government’ section. To read thought-leadership articles anchored to the NACs, visit ‘The National Agenda’ on nationalagendacommittees.wordpress.com.