Sri Lanka Plans Bill Amendment to Tap into Lucrative Maritime Revenue and Strengthen National Security
In a recent address at the Presidential Media Centre (PMC), Defence State Minister Pramitha Bandara Tennakoon revealed intentions to amend the National Hydrology Act, intending to introduce Electronic Navigation Charts (ENCs). These charts could potentially yield a substantial annual revenue of around US$200 million from ships navigating near Sri Lankan waters.
Highlighting the significance of this amendment, Tennakoon emphasized the shift of responsibility for creating ENCs from the British Hydrographical Office, managed via an agreement with the NARA Institute, to the Sri Lankan Navy in the foreseeable future.
Acknowledging President’s initiatives in bolstering national security and economic improvements, Tennakoon stressed the vital role of the army in ensuring national safety, drawing lessons from past events like the Easter Sunday attack. He underscored the obligation of the armed forces to protect citizens irrespective of differences in race, religion, or caste.
The State Minister debunked misconceptions about the Defence Ministry’s budget allocation, clarifying that out of the Rs. 423 billion allocated, only Rs. 169 billion were specifically earmarked for the armed forces. The remaining funds supported various vital institutions under the Defence Ministry, including disaster management and educational establishments like the National Cadet Corps and Kotelawala Defence University.
Additionally, Tennakoon highlighted the diverse functions of these institutions, shedding light on their roles beyond defense, such as in disaster management and healthcare. Notable allocations included funds for tackling human trafficking, drug interception efforts by the Navy, and plans for modernizing the National Hydrological Office to capitalize on maritime traffic.
The impending transition from printed nautical charts to electronic navigation maps by 2026 was emphasized, urging the need for updated technology. Tennakoon proposed a bill to empower the hydrological office by amending legislation, transferring responsibility for creating electronic navigational maps to the Navy, with the anticipation of significant financial gains.
Moreover, Tennakoon outlined plans for modernizing the Department of Meteorology and legislating a Building Code through the National Building Research Institute by 2024, aiming to ensure precise weather forecasts and set construction standards, respectively, for bolstering the nation’s infrastructure and preparedness.