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Sri Lanka's Ports Minister refuses to liberalise shipping sector

Sri Lanka's Ports Minister, SLFP MP Mahinda Samarasinghe on Tuesday told parliament that his party would refuse to implement the liberalisation of the shipping sector as outlined by the 2018 budget. 

“The position of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) is that we oppose this proposal. And as the minister in charge of the subject, I will not issue the gazette notification (giving effect to the budget proposal),” Mr Samarasinghe told Parliament.

Asserting that the Sri Lankan president agreed with the SLFP position, he added, "the President is firmly against this move."

"Our policy is not to destroy the local businessman," Mr Samaraweera said. 

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His remarks add to the simmering crisis within Sri Lanka's unity government as tensions between the UNP and SLFP increase. 

In an interview to the FT earlier this month, Mr Samarasinghe condemned proposed plans to allow 100% foreign ownership in the sector as "completely wrong".  

"I am totally against this. I cannot allow the local industry to be destroyed. This is the SLFP’s stand. This therefore needs to be discussed with proper information," Mr Samarasinghe was quoted by the paper as saying.