Colombo, April 4 – An article published in Sunday’s edition of Ceylon Today revealed that Sri Lanka is among 35 countries that have been included in a maritime shame list. Sri Lanka has loaned out the national flag to several foreign vessels in exchange for substantial fees.
According to the Director of the the International Transport Federation, Inspector Ranjan Perera, Sri Lanka is included in the ‘Flags of Convenience’ or ‘Flags of Shame’ list.
He adds that most of the other countries are tiny islands with a sparse population and limited foreign income capacities and therefore, are desperately in need of vital revenue.
Palitha Athukorala, the President of the National Union of Seafarers Sri Lanka stated that wealthy ship owners in Europe and across the Pacific, hire foreign flags for their vessels, mainly from underdeveloped and third world nations. This is done to avoid huge operational costs, reduce responsibility and avoid rigid regulations in their native countries.
He adds that the practice of renting the Sri Lankan flag to foreign shipping companies has been in existence for nearly three decades. Authorities are content with the fees they get in return. However the country’s dignity and respect is at stake, he pointed out.
Sri Lanka is the only country in South Asia to have loaned out the national flag. Poorer and smaller nations in the region have not done so.
-As published in Newsfirst