Investing in Lanka
Mahinda Rajapaksa and Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama have
invited Turkish businessmen to invest in Sri Lanka, citing a
range of facilities, concessions and incentives granted to
Sri Lanka was one of the first countries in the region to
liberalise its economy and invite foreign investors. Today, it
is a leading investment destination in South Asia and investors
from all parts of the world have set up operations here.
The Free Trade Agreement between Sri Lanka and India has also
become an attractive proposition for investors seeking a
foothold in the vast Indian market. One of the main advantages
for many investors is Sri Lanka's strategic geographic location
between the Far East and the Middle East. Sri Lanka has already
established itself as hub and a gateway to South Asia.
Sri Lanka's advanced financial services, sound legal system
and educated workforce are other plus points. But some problems
remain especially in the spheres of infrastructure. Most
investors are reluctant to move out of Colombo and Gampaha
districts which have superb infrastructure facilities.
More investors will opt to start their ventures in provincial
cities and rural areas if better infrastructure facilities can
be provided. Sri Lanka's electricity rates are still high
compared with those of many countries in the region. Cheaper
electricity will be a reality with the commissioning of
Kerawalapitiya and several other projects in the near future.
The construction of international ports in the South and the
East will also boost trade and investment.
Better roads are also needed. Some road journeys from
interior areas of the country take seven to eight hours. The
construction of a number of expressways will address this
problem in the long term. Telecom links, while far better than
those of even five years ago, must be developed further to offer
full telecom solutions to prospective investors.
But the biggest impediment remains the conflict. Even though
the battles are confined to one part of the country, news
reports datelined Colombo create a wrong impression among some
investors that the whole country does not have a suitable
investment climate. On the contrary, normality and democracy
have been restored in the Eastern Province where several major
constructions have already been completed.
With the Security Forces poised to eliminate terrorism and
the Government striving to find a political solution, that last
impediment is likely to fade away. Sri Lanka will then realise
its true investment potential.
There is a saying
that if you laugh, the whole world will laugh with you, but if
you cry, you have to cry alone. This may be literally true, if a
team of scientists from Harvard have their way.
In a study published online yesterday by the British Medical
Journal, scientists from Harvard University and UC San Diego
showed that happiness spreads readily through social networks of
family members, friends and neighbours.
This is indeed good news, nay, happy news. Being happy is a
state of mind and if you can 'infect' others with your
happiness, that is one of the prime joys of life. After all, it
is not easy to make people happy. Most of us are overburdened
with a range of problems that weigh us down. But one should
strive to see the rays of happiness in the dark clouds of gloom.
The latest research shows that seeing other happy people, who
may even be total strangers, could give us a mental boost.
Indeed, many countries are now trying to quantify happiness
so that it can be included as an index to show their relative
prosperity. One country has already announced a Gross Happiness
Index as opposed to the more established Physical Quality of
This research is also part of a growing trend to measure
well-being as a crucial component of public health. Scientists
have documented that people who describe themselves as happy are
likely to live longer, even if they have a chronic illness. It
has indeed been documented that some people with
life-threatening illnesses have recovered thanks to their
happiness and positive outlook.
The research also touched upon another well-known fact:
face-to-face contact still rules despite the rapid spread of
'virtual contact' through telephone, the Internet (Facebook et
al) and chat/email. Most companies now have video conferencing
facilities to save travel costs, but there is still nothing like
a physical meeting of minds.
Virtual contact cannot really make you happy in the way that
a physical meeting does.
Even a small act can make you happy - helping an elderly man
to cross the street, reading a good book, listening to a good
song and having a family get together are just a few examples.
Happiness does not cost anything to give and embrace. It is the
perfect antidote to the travails of life.