Government to Promote Local Boat Ownership
By Ishara Gamage
Recently, the Government enacted a tax amendment to the Inland Revenue Act passed by Parliament on 4 May 2021, where “new undertaking for the manufacture of boats or ships is exempt for 7 years,” and this is a great boost to the local boat building industry, experts said yesterday.
During a webinar organised by the Export Development Board (EDB) yesterday (11 May), which was attended by experts worldwide, and a wide spectrum of participants, EDB, High Commissioner of Sri Lanka in Singapore, Chairman of Singapore Boat Industry Association (SBIA), Managing Director Sri Lanka Boat Building Technology Improvement with prominent local boat building companies in Sri Lanka have contributed during the panel discussions.
Much emphasis was placed on development of nautical tourism and availability of cruising by yachts and the advantage of developing a marina in the Port City. Tax reliefs given by the Government to entice investors to come to Sri Lanka to join with local land owners and State agencies who own waterfronts (that is, Fishery Harbours Corporation, which owns 20 numbers protected fishery harbours) was mentioned, but the extensive State bureaucracy blocking such investments was not discussed.
“We had a hard time with State agencies in developing a state-ofthe-art second shipyard, which is currently patronised by many foreign owners,” they said. Third time tenders are being called for development of a marina in Galle, but exhaustive valuations stipulated by the Government valuer have deterred investors from submitting proposals.
Under the new State Ministry for Boat Building, the Government should set up a powerful agency like the BOI dedicated to the boat building industry, so that investors are given favourable long-term lease rates and other benefits such as reducing taxation on capital.
It is also paramount that local middle class and upper class people are encouraged to buy locally built yachts and pleasure boats at reasonable prices, with cheap parking lots in fishery harbours or any other protected lagoons like Negombo or Kalpitiya. At the Webinar, it was emphasised that unless the Government develops a conducive atmosphere for locals to acquire boats like acquiring motor vehicles, Sri Lanka cannot become a prime boat building or marina destination, without locals becoming a boating Nation.