List state-owned enterprises to increase transparency - Dr Mobius | Daily News


Lanka has immense growth potential with foreign investor appeal

List state-owned enterprises to increase transparency - Dr Mobius

Krishan Balendra, Chairman, John Keells Holdings with Dr. Mark Mobius at the Cinnamon Grand
Krishan Balendra, Chairman, John Keells Holdings with Dr. Mark Mobius at the Cinnamon Grand

The Sri Lankan government does not have to privatize but must increase transparency of , state-owned enterprises by listing the entities, stressed illustrious emerging global markets investor, Dr. Mark Mobius.

“This is a high priority even if the government is losing money, because only when issues are made publicly known, where these losses are coming from can be definitively pin-pointed, and as a result, addressed.”

Dr Mobius made these observations at a breakfast forum titled ‘Emerging Markets and Sri Lanka’s Growth Trajectory’ hosted by Cinnamon Life in Colombo. He also highlighted Sri Lanka’s strengths and said the country has immense growth potential that has foreign investor appeal. Sri Lanka has always held global interest as an agri-based economy especially with tea as its strongest brand and commodity- as well as its charm as a tourism destination.

He also made note that the recent attractiveness of Sri Lanka to the software and real estate sectors.

Dr. Mobius also mused over how investments the world over have been significantly altered by the entry of sophisticated communication, the internet, and IT, and yet maintained that through his four-decade long tenure, he has learned that the acceptance of new trends and optimism has always paid off as an investor. Commenting on ongoing power stand-off between the US and China, Dr. Mobius said that emerging countries such as Sri Lanka actually stand to benefit from the new re-arrangements of moves in trade and exports.

“China should be encouraged to invest and manufacture in Sri Lanka along with other superpowers such as India while Sri Lanka maintains its independence.

Furthermore, with low global interest rates -as it now stands-, it is easier for emerging economies -more than established markets- to refinance and restructure the debt as rates come down, and then to raise more money at very low rates.”

Asked for his opinion on practical steps to be taken by the new government in order to get the economy moving, Dr. Mobius stated Tax reform, ease of foreign exchange flows and travel as priorities.

“Make taxes easy to pay and competitive to the region, change procedures for foreign exchange controls by making the way easy for money to come in and go out, and make visa procedures easy for tourism to flow.”

A member of the Economic Advisory Board of the International Finance Corporation he said that these measures will easily solve the issues of tax deficits and strengthen the currency.

Himself having invested in an apartment at Cinnamon Life, Dr. Mobius indicated an interest in the local property market, the country’s financial services, as well as its tourism sector.

“There is a dire need to develop a mortgage market in Sri Lanka where owning property is made easier for potential investors.” He expressed generous praise for Sri Lanka and his enthusiasm at the opportunity to travel to the country at a very transformative period for the local economy. 

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