Colombo Dockyard PLC, over the past ten years has recorded an export revenue growth over 482 percent while internal capacity and infrastructure development reached its optimum level.
"The export revenue of US $ 18.9 million in 1999 has been increased up to US $ 110 million in 2009", said Managing Director/ Chief Executive Officer Colombo Dockyard PLC (CDL) Mangala P.B. Yapa.
The Export Development Board of Sri Lanka has set a target to achieve US $ 20 billion revenue in the export sector by 2020 and as a major player in the country's shipping industry CDL aims at becoming a significant contributor, he said.
The exporters need to increase their value addition by moving up on the value chain and increase the volumes to reach this target. The products and services should be targeted for high-end users, if Sri Lanka is aspiring to be an exporting country and to increase the revenue generated, he said.
"Sri Lanka has a high literacy rate and there is a great demand to engage in non-agriculture jobs. Thus, the objective of the nation should be to deploy more and more youth in the revenue generating professions", Mapa said.
Shipbuilding and ship repairs are industries that requires highly skilled and disciplined workforce. We need to train the necessary human resources to derive benefits from such industries.
Sri Lanka's geographical positioning and being situated in a sea lane has natural and comparative advantages, but this is not enough and we need to address the other impediments and make our industries globally competitive, if the country is to move forward, he said.
Shipbuilding and ship repairing needs sheltered waters. If we do not have natural sheltered waters, as in the case of Far East and China, it is necessary to create such sheltered areas by building harbours and breakwaters, barring the oceanic waves from disturbing the operations. Obviously, creating such infrastructure involves heavy expenditure and the Government support is vital. As Sri Lanka does not possess any raw material or equipment for shipbuilding and ship repair, we need to import almost everything to build ships, he said.
Mangala P.B. Yapa
Therefore, if we are aspiring to develop shipbuilding and ship repair as a thrust industry for export market, which has great potential and an opportunity, we need the Government to seriously look into the many advantages we face, he said.
"We need incentives for training and development, research and development and such expenditure must receive tax relief and incentives to encourage the industrialists. The shipping industry needs highly skilled, competent employees. Steps must be taken to train them and that would facilitate employment generation and to do so we must transform our current supply driven education system to a demand driven system, Mapa said.
The shipbuilding business involves substantial international exposure and there is reasonable risk in granting credit to various customers.
In order to mitigate such risks against any potential volatility, a State sponsored fund or an entity must be set up and a mechanism should be in place to address funding requirements and for mitigation of credit risk, he said.
Colombo Dockyard PLC enjoys an enviable reputation as one of South Asia's leading ship repairers and shipbuilders.