Foreign Exchange Issues – Release of Consignments Withheld in The Port Of  Colombo

With the Covid-19 pandemic, businesses and Sri Lanka’s economic infrastructure was hit hard. The resulting prevalent foreign exchange issues in Sri Lanka have given rise to a new problem; it has left a number of consignments left without clearance over a period of time. In lieu of this problem, The president of Sri Lanka has advised the Minister of Ports and Shipping to direct the Sri Lanka Ports Authority to review the eligibility for waivers of the penal charges. This comes as a special concession to importers who have their cargo in the SLPA-owned terminals ( JCT and ECT) with pending clearance as of 31st of January 2022.

To proceed with the application for a waiver of port charges, the Chairman of the Sri Lanka Ports Authority has advised importers to produce the following documents:

  • A letter from the Consignee requesting a waiver on penal charges. The commodity or the HS code of the importer’s goods or containers should also be mentioned.
  • A copy of the delivery order or bill of landing.
  • A letter of confirmation issued by the importer’s bank stating that the clearance of the cargo or containers has faced delays owing to the foreign exchange issues/shortage in the domestic market. The letter should clearly indicate the date when the documents were handed over to the bank by the importer and the date the bank released the documents to the importer to get clearance for the cargo or containers.

It must be noted that the SLPA has already given prior notice to the Secretary-General of the Sri Lankan Banks Association (Guarantee) Ltd.

The SLPA has drawn specific attention to the eligibility for this waiver of penal charges for cargo and containers cleared only on and after the 31st of January this year.

The above-mentioned documents, along with a written request, are to be submitted to the Chairman of the Rent Waivers Committee of the Logistics Division of the Sri Lanka Ports Authority. All written correspondence in regards to this should be indicated as a special request for rent waiver under the above heading to prioritize the processing of such requests.

Another notable fact is that the Secretary to the Ministry of Ports and Shipping has already sent ahead a letter to the South Asian Gateway Terminals (SAGT) and the Colombo International Container Terminal (CICT) with a request to follow the same procedures.