|Saturday, 3 July 2004|
Anura on investment drive in UK
Potential investors in UK have expressed their confidence in the investment climate prevailing in Sri Lanka to Minister of Industries, Tourism and Investment Promotion Anura Bandaranaike during his visit to UK recently.
The positive sentiment comes in the wake of the initiatives taken by the new government to attract more foreign investment in the country.
Minister Bandaranaike visited the UK briefly with a view to acquaint the business community of the investor-friendly climate prevailing in Sri Lanka and the opportunities for investment in Sri Lanka.
The visit was prompted by the need to acquaint the business sector with the policies of the new Government and in response to an upsurge of interest to invest in Sri Lanka evidenced by several large entrepreneurs throughout the UK.
The Minister also addressed the UK Sri Lanka Business Council, which was established in 2003 with the primary objective of generating new business opportunities and to expand existing business operations between Sri Lanka and the UK.
The meeting was attended by representatives from nearly sixty companies, and officials from the London Chamber of Commerce, the Commonwealth Business Council, and Government Departments and agencies.
The Minister provided an over view of recent political events in Sri Lanka. He stressed that there was a smooth transition of power and that the new Government was firmly in place.
The Minister firmly rejected the notion that there was political instability and pointed out that his group of parties had emerged as a single party alliance with a majority of 700,000 votes over the Opposition.
He stressed that if the election had been held on the basis of the first past the post system as prevails in the UK, the Alliance would have secured more than a 2/3 majority in Parliament.
The Minister said that the Alliance had been given a clear mandate to stabilise the economy and find a lasting solution to the ethnic problem and that although the Government did not have a working majority, it is in a position to provide the necessary members in Parliament as and when the occasion arise.
He stated that the Government was committed to an open economy and that the JVP, which is a constituent partner, had assured him of their fullest cooperation in the sphere of foreign investment.
In this context, he pointed out that the JVP is committed to political and economic stability, investor confidence and Parliamentary democracy. He said that in keeping with these commitments, they have given him their complete support as a Minister to make the Government's investment program a success.
Referring to tourism, the Minister said that this government was totally committed to promoting the industry. He pointed out that a record number of British tourists (96,000) had visited Sri Lanka last year.
The Minister added that his aim was to increase this number. He said that more hotels were needed to accommodate the increased arrivals and to this end he has been discussing with many potential investors.
The Minister stated that public opinion in Sri Lanka was overwhelmingly in favour of the abolition of the executive presidential system. His party had pledged to do so and would secure a means of achieving this end after broad consultation with all sections of the community.
Minister Bandaranaike reiterated that the Government would also pursue a peaceful solution to the ethnic issue and arrive at a just settlement within the framework of a united Sri Lanka, in a manner that would safeguard the interests of all communities. He emphasized that there would be a large measure of devolution but not a division of the country.
The Minister also met a reputed manufacturer of electrical switchgear, who is taking steps to establish a manufacturing plant in Sri Lanka.
The Minister also had a round of talks with the higher management of Commerz Bank, which has among its clientele, a large number of corporate bodies interested in investing in infrastructure development projects in Sri Lanka.
The Minister addressed several leading tour operators and key figures of the leisure industry at a dinner meeting.
Commenting on the outcome of his discussions with company representatives and those engaged in the tourist industry, the Minister said that he was encouraged by the enthusiasm shown by potential investors and greatly appreciated the confidence placed in the investor friendly climate generated by the new Government.
Produced by Lake House