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 84 New freight forwarding firms registered in 2011

Despite a sluggish global economic recovery the Sri Lanka Ports Authority has seen its profits increase by 89 percent to Rs. 8.3 billion in 2011 while 84 new companies were registered as freight forwarders, bringing the total number of freight forwarders to 429 at the end of 2011, the Central Bank said. 

"A steady growth was seen in the ports sector in 2011. Despite severe set-backs in the pace of global economic recovery, total container handling increased by 3 per cent to 4.3 million twenty foot equivalent container units (TEUs) in 2011 while transshipment handling increased marginally, the Central Bank said in its 2011 Annual Report. 

"The total cargo handled increased by 6.2 per cent to 65.1 million metric tons. The total number of vessels arriving at the port of Colombo grew by 5.5 per cent. 

"As per the unaudited provisional financial data, financial performance of the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) improved significantly despite the sluggish pace of global trade. The revenue of the SLPA increased by 10.5 per cent to Rs. 31.2 billion, while the operating expenditure decreased by 3.9 per cent to Rs. 30 billion in 2011. The operating profit of the SLPA increased by 89 per cent to Rs. 8.3 billion compared to Rs. 4.4 billion in 2010. 

"Development of port infrastructure has been at the forefront of the government’s infrastructure development drive. Construction of Phase I of the Hambanthota Port was completed in December 2011 and full scale commercial operations are expected to commence by mid-2012," the Central Bank said. 

"SLPA shortlisted 14 of the 27 Expressions of Interest received for the setting up factories at the Hambantota Port. Four proposals to set up petrochemical, cement, sugar and fertilizer processing plants have been approved by the Cabinet of Ministers. Construction of an oil tank farm with fourteen tanks was in progress at the Hambantota Port to facilitate the supply of bunkering fuel. 

"The Colombo South Port project was in progress in 2011 and construction of the South Container Terminal is expected to commence in early 2012. The estimated project cost is US dollars 500 million and the terminal is expected to commence operations in May 2014 with the capacity to handle another 2.4 million TEUs per annum. 

"All land, building and road construction work of the Oluvil Port was completed in 2011 while the entire project is expected to be completed by July 2012. The project comprises a commercial harbor and a basin for fishing rafts. 

"Upon completion of reconstruction work of the Galle Port, it will cater to the tourism sector in the region by developing a Yacht Marina, which will attract more yachts. 

"The Trincomalee harbour has been identified as a centre to cater for bulk cargo and port related industrial activities including heavy industries, tourism and agriculture. 

"SLPA has also proposed to build a Port City adjacent to the Port of Colombo at an estimated cost of US dollars 700 million. This will consist of a range of facilities such as luxury hotels, apartment complexes and shopping malls. 

"SLPA took measures to improve productivity and efficiency of container and cargo handling to maintain its competitiveness. In the face of the slow growth in the global trade and competition from regional ports, Sri Lanka needs to take timely measures to improve productivity and efficiency in the port sector. With a view to improve productivity, in 2011, both the Jaya Container Terminal (JCT) and South Asia Gateway Terminals Limited (SAGT) have installed new equipment to reduce turnaround time. 

Further, SLPA recognised the need for capacity building among existing employees to help improve competitiveness of its port operations. The staff was provided with required training to help improve their soft skills, human resource management and technical skills," the Central Bank said.(TI11042012)

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