The 2018 Budget proposals towards the liberalisation of the shipping industry were presented with a view to making Sri Lanka a true regional maritime hub, said Ministry of Finance’s Senior Advisor Mano Tittawella.
Speaking at the seminar on the national budget organised by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce yesterday, he said that the proposal to liberalise the shipping and logistics industry would also bring in additional foreign exchange to the country.
Tittawella said that the proposals are much more than merely relaxing the regulations on foreign players in the shipping and logistics industry. “We want to send a message that Sri Lanka is liberalising. We also want to say that we are not limiting the industry to a few local companies.”
Tittawella said that the government wants to broadbase the industry and create more competition and bring in more players, rather than confining the shipping sector to a few individuals and companies.
“When we open up the industry, it would bring in significant economic benefits to the country.”
He also said that one must not forget the benefits the export sector would have from these proposals. “With the liberalisation, there would be competition, creating better benefits for exporters.”
He also said the government has turned around one white elephant by leasing out the Hambantota Port and they are now in initial talks to also turn around Mattala International Airport.
Meanwhile, Deputy Secretary to the Treasury, Ministry of Finance, S.R. Attygalle, answering a question from the audience said that there was a technical error with regard to import and offering tax concessions for electric vehicles.
“This will now be implemented for vehicles under one year old.”
He also said that the tax system proposed for the motor industry has simplified it and now it would be almost impossible to under invoice vehicles, by which the government had up to now lost a lot of tax revenue from motor imports.
Commenting on the carbonated drinks, he said that the new tax will apply according to the contents of sugar and drinks like soda would not have additional tax.