No duty concessions for importers as containers lie at Colombo Port

Importers will not be granted tax and duty concessions despite a slow down in operations at the Colombo Port due to COVID-19, ports authority chair Daya Rathnayake has said.

Officials say there is a backlog of at least 40,000 containers at the port, and that unloading operations have been stalled as several workers have been infected by the virus, or are undergoing quarantine.

“We granted massive concessions to importers over their payments to the port, the customs department, and shipping lines (during the first wave of the virus). However, do not expect that this time,” Rathnayake stressed.

At least 61 employees have been infected with COVID-19 while 30 percent of employees at the Jaya Terminal have been placed under quarantine, the Sri Lanka Ports Authority said.

Accordingly, around 60 retired port workers have been called in to fill the void and to ensure smooth operations at the port.

“We request all employees attached to the port, customs department and other related entities to report to work and fulfil their responsibilities,” the ports authority chairman requested.

Meanwhile, the department of customs has decided to clear the backlog of containers at the Colombo port during the weekend.

“We hope to carry out our duties with this momentum tomorrow, and in the coming weekends to facilitate the clearance of containers,” customs spokesman Sunil Jayaratne noted.

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