|Friday, 9 January 2004|
Fresh impetus from SAARC conference to boost investor confidence -Bogollagama
by Shirajiv Sirimane
The recently concluded SAARC conference has given a fresh initiative for business for the entire region and has increased the investor confidence said the Minister of Industries Rohitha Bogollagama.
The Minister said that the decision to form the SAFTA in 2006 too would be very beneficial for the SAARC countries in an interview with the 'Daily News' yesterday.
The Minister who returned from an official tour of India said that one of the leading IT companies in Bangalore, Infosys is very keen in investing in Sri Lanka. The company is keen on setting up call centres and Business outsourcing procedures.
A high-powered delegation from the company will be in Sri Lanka on January 14 on a three-day fact finding mission.
He said that the proposed industrial agreement between Sri Lanka and India would be signed on January 27 in New Delhi with the Indian Minister of Small Industries C. P. Thakoor.
The Minister said he also met top officials of the Ashok Leyland Company, which is the largest supplier of buses to Sri Lanka. He hopes to obtain their assistance for a bus rehabilitation project. There are many buses, which have been left to perish due to mechanical problems, and he hopes to get the assistance to repair these buses.
The meeting with the Managing Director of Hero Honda, Wije Munjal too was successful. They have accepted a proposal by us to study the possibility of setting up one of their plants in Sri Lanka for export.
Hero manufactures over six million cycles per year and is the largest producer of cycles having being featured in the Guinness Book of World Records.
Sri Lanka's annual turnover per year is US $ 500 million while each of these companies annual income is higher. Infosys has an annual income US $ 1,200 million and Hero Honda US $ 1,500 million. "This is the reason we are keen to tie up with them."
The Sri Lankan Railway is highly underutilised and only few industrialists make use of it. In contrast there are 13,000 engines running per day in India of which 8,000-carry cargo. Sixteen million people travel in India per day. "Sri Lanka railway must take a cue from India."
The Minister said that 100 years ago there was a system adopted by the British where tea was transported in trains to Colombo and then to London.
The Minister also had discussions with the Kanara Provincial Chamber in Mangalore and their SME sector was keen on investing in Sri Lanka. "We have appointed former Secretary General of the North Western Province Chamber, Hildon Hamangoda for negotiations."
The Minister visited New Delhi, Bangalore and Mangalore and also delivered a special address at the Railway Way forward conference.
Produced by Lake House