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04th July 2017

Speech by Incoming Chairman Mr. Chrisso de Mel at the SLSC Post Business Session of 47th Annual General Meeting

Speech by Incoming Chairman Mr. Chrisso de Mel

It is with great honour that I accept the appointment as Chairman of the SLSC for the period 2017 - 2018.

The SLSC has a great and distinguished history that spans more than 50 years. Throughout this history, it has had an intimate association with the ship and port user community of the country and the government, standing alongside them and being heavily involved in their both their challenges and successes.

This is a history that should never be forgotten; we, the current generation of administrators and members, owe it to all the Council’s members and past Chairmen, to keep this great institution strong and vibrant as we face the challenges that confront us now and into the future.

More recently, this association has been impressively led by Mr. Sean van Dort, the outgoing Chairman. His instrumental role in leading the SLSC as a driver of development in Sri Lanka’s logistics industry was highlighted in July 2016, when the SLSC celebrated its 50th Anniversary. It has been indeed a “Golden Journey, Enriched by the Past and, Transforming the Future”.

I want to take this opportunity to thank Sean for the work he has done over the past 3 years. He has led the SLSC admirably in a period where we have had considerable success, a stable financial position and administrative strength, amidst serious challenges.

As I take over from him, I note that I will be the 18th Chairman of the SLSC - a statistic that highlights to me the great responsibility I have taken on. For those who know me well, you will know that I will always do the very best I can for the SLSC and will hopefully lead the team to continue the great work done by those who have served before me. I will always strive to continue the development of the SLSC, through leadership, co-operation and hard work.

I would like to thank all those whose belief in me resulted in this appointment. First, I would like to thank Sean and the entire committee for having confidence in me to steer SLSC to drive the transformation agenda. I am also thankful to SLSC’s Secretariat, to Manori and Ushani and to the rest of the Chamber team for their magnificent work, unstinted efforts and cooperation.

I also wish to pay a special tribute to my Chairman and the board of directors of Hayleys PLC for the freedom and support they have given me to engage in all Chamber activities and to the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, which placed their trust in me when nominating me as their representative to the SLSC – it was this nomination that paved the way for me to take up this post today.

One of the key factors in order to position the SLSC to achieve its goals and maintain its reputation is to improve and build on the structure that is in place. This enables us to maintain our focus in key areas, and the improvement that we seek in our country

At the beginning of this evening’s proceedings, we observed a minute of silence in memory of those who lost their lives as a result of the recent floods and landslides.

But what happens with visible and cruel disasters also happens in a less visible way, often without the loss being recognised – and without any minute of silence being observed on its account. Poor governance, lack of public sector accountability and lack of responsibility on the part of the political leadership all contribute to our collective misfortune; and this has been the pattern now for decades.

Looking around me now,, I see the various stake holders who could easily move us towards our dreams and goals. We are never short of the input of ideas. The industries have marked and understood various reforms that need to take place. They have responded with important proposals for the budget etc., but the frustrating thing for most of us it is the difficulty in moving from proposal to action. Whether it be matters regarding Infrastructure, Local government agencies, Customs and border protection requirements or Ports and Airport services.

These failures and policy inconsistency has driven much fear and concern in the minds of investors; while the private sector has been far too docile.

This beautiful country, which we call home, was once called The Pearl of the Indian Ocean. A Pearl that stood out displaying its true potential, value and beauty. We are blessed with all the natural resources and talent that any country can aspire to or ever imagine possessing. We are also cursed with chaos, disrespect, disunity, and corruption that no country would ever wish for.

So ladies and gentleman you would agree with me that we have probably already missed the bus. However, if there could be a second chance, it would be now or never - unless we put our best effort to get our act together and stand confidently to compete with the rest of the world, time will run out and leave us behind.

I am proud to say we have put in place a quality executive team that will ensure focus and development in the key areas. I am looking forward to working with them and all the Council’s stakeholders during my term as Chairman.

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