Sri Lanka Shippers’ Council held its 51st Annual General Meeting on 14 July 2021. Considering the prevailing situation in the country, this year’s AGM was held as a Virtual Meeting connected through Microsoft Teams.
Russell Juriansz was elected as the Chairman and Imalka Kumarapeli and risherman Frink were elected as the 1st Vice Chairman as the 2nd Vice Chairman respectively for the year 2021/2022.
Committee members representing 15 trade associations connected to international trade, 50+ individual members, and past Chairmen of the council participated in this year’s AGM making it an important event attracting the elite of the Sri Lankan import and export sector involved in logistics and shipping.
The Sri Lanka Shippers’ Council has a 50 + years rich history representing the interests of shippers on the Island. It was the first National Shippers’ Council to be set up in Asia in March 1966 now having 14 product member associations and over 50 individual members representing almost all industries engaged in international trade making it one of the most vibrant councils in the Country.
The Council actively supports the Sri Lankan Government’s vision of making Sri Lanka the Logistics Hub in the Asian region, which would result in the generation of enhanced economic activity, employment and wealth. As such, all Council activities have been planned and prepared to support this vision and facilitate international trade.
Distinguished Past Chairmen of the Council, Executive Members of the Council, Honorary Member, Members of the Council, Ladies and Gentleman.
I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the Executive Committee and Membership of the Council for placing their confidence and trust in me and the two Vice Chairmen Imalka and Frink elect to carry on the activities of the Council for the ensuing year 2021/2022.
As you have already listened previously, Sri Lanka Shippers’ Council is one of the most powerful associations and Apex body for shippers which covers Imports and Exports with a specific focus on Exports which is the most crucial activity that this country needs now more than ever. So the Council will be shouldering this challenge together with the authorities with a clear vision to boost the Exports in the country. In doing so, Sri Lanka Shippers’ Council is committed to identify the major challenges that the shippers are facing and propose pragmatic solutions to suit the modern day business module.
Although the government has now relaxed certain restrictions on the nation, we believe in being ‘safe rather than sorry’, hence our decision to hold this prestigious event virtually. We do not know for how long this pandemic will prevail and adjusting to this new normal quickly, is our strength to lead the council and deliver results to all stake holders during this difficult period. I would greatly appreciate the support of the past chairmen, Honorary Member and the executive committee to help me and my Vice Chairmen to steer this Council to greater heights during these unprecedented times.
As you are aware that the world is going through times never experienced before, and our way of life has changed so drastically that we would never have imagined this situation a few years back.
It is under such circumstances that, we the council undertake to unite all stake holders to weather the storm and take us through to the end of this pandemic which will be our top most priority as stated at the outset. Let us not look back but focus our attention to this objective and the safety of all.
The exports of our country has shown an upward movement since the second wave of the pandemic and if we keep focused, we could reach reasonable growth in all sectors.
Your resilience and ability to adapt to changing conditions in the supply chain will stand in good stead when compared with other supply chains the world over who are facing many challenges in their own countries. Your persistence to deliver to your clients during these difficult times will auger well with your buyers and by creating an image of preferred supplier in the minds of your buyers, which you should be able to achieve.
Some of the challengers our exporters and importers are facing such as, need of good Equipment due to the drop in imports due to restrictions, Space, Delays in vessel schedules, higher freight rates and an acute shortage of foreign exchange in the country. The council will engage all stake holders concerned to minimize these challengers for the benefit of all concerned and the country at large.
Therefore, I request that the government looks favourably at the needs of the Exporters and Importers, by realigning its foreign exchange policy, granting incentives to increase their capacity and to conduct business with ease. the council is already engaged and greatly appreciate the efforts of Sri Lanka Customs Modernization program and The Director Merchant Shipping declaring a sealing of maximum delivery order charges, time line to refund container deposits and a mechanism for arbitration to give relief to imports, which has already been achieved to name a few that the council has reached out for the benefit of all stake holders. Seen that complaints are growing, it is the duty of the policy makers to ensure that the decisions are implemented legally and to transform the wrongdoers in the right direction for the benefit of the trade.
On behalf of the Importers and Exporters in the country, Sri Lanka Shippers’ Council is committed to prioritize some key issues which have been long overdue for many years. Therefore, Sri Lanka shippers’ Council will do its utmost to get the Trade Facilitation and the National Single Window agenda to the top of the list together along with other critical needs for the Trade. In this context, we hope to work more closely with the policy makers in order to support the government’s vision of Vistas of Prosperity and Splendor. Not stopping there, we will drive the collaboration agenda with all other agencies and association in order to collectively achieve benefits for the Trade in Sri Lanka enabling the country to move up in the Ease of Doing Business from its current ranking of 99th position to be within the first fifty.
I take this opportunity to thank our outgoing Chairman Mr. Suren Abeysekera for his untiring effort to lead the council to a dynamic and vibrant entity we are today a legacy which has given me a direction to follow. Under his leadership we have accomplished many benefits for the importers and exporters in the country, with the most recent achievement being the maximum delivery order fees that could be charged from an Importer. We would look forward to reaching out to his able council whenever needed.
I would like to acknowledge CINEC who have partnered with the Council for over ten years by providing scholarships to encourage professionalism in the industry through the untiring efforts of Prof. Lalith Edrisinghe, who has personally been instrumental in obtaining these from his organization CINEC. My sincere gratitude goes out to him.
I would like to mention Mr. Ruwan Senanayaka who was instrumental In introducing me to the council, Mr. Chrisso De Mel for nominating me as Vice Chairman, Mr. Dinesh De Siva for his mentoring and the able support extended to me by the past chairmen whom I worked with.
I would also like to acknowledge all our corporate sponsors for the confidence placed in the council and granting the sponsorships.
Thank you all and God bless you!