BOI approves US$ 1.2 bn projects this year | Daily News


BOI approves US$ 1.2 bn projects this year

US$ 1 bn more investment in the pipeline for 2020 :
DG BOI Sanjaya Mohottala
DG BOI Sanjaya Mohottala

The Board of Investments has approved projects to the tune of USD 1.2 billion so far this year, Director General (DG) of BOI, Sanjaya Mohottala said.

Another USD billion is in the pipeline for 2020 and this number can be bettered next year, he opined. Sri Lanka also had seen a positive export trend from local and also BOI companies in July.

The geopolitical situation also helped in this regard.

He said that the political stability that was created after the government secured a 2/3 majority and the management method adopted to detect, eliminate and treat COVID 19 clusters and patients which is among the best in the world are major plus points to promote Sri Lanka not only as a destination for investment but also as a safe and secure country (health-wise) to invest.

Investors wanted a stable government and this has happened and now the investors want a corrupt-free country with a conducive environment for investments.

They also want to see the maintenance of unchanged policies. A hassle-free public service, adding of key infrastructure too are essential and these will also help raise Sri Lanka’s ‘Ease of Doing Business Index.’

Sri Lanka should also look at more friendly ‘long term visa offerings’ to foreign investors and especially local expatriates who are doing well globally.

Sri Lanka is looking for a US$ 1,000 million GDP. Sri Lanka also needs inclusive growth which in turn will help to reduce the disparity between have and have nots.

The Director-General, however, said that these alone are not adequate to woo FDI to Sri Lanka and there are other components that are needed.

Firstly a multi-talented and hard-working labor pool should be created and the present labor laws which are well accepted by intentional investors should be continued. He identified the manufacturer of Pharmaceuticals as a key sector to woo FDI. “Though Sri Lanka doesn’t have the technological know-how we can build it by inviting global pharmaceutical giants to invest in Sri Lanka, manufacture (not Lanka’s total requirement) using local skilled graduates and sell to the local market and for exports as well. This will create a billion-dollar vertical over the next decade.

“To pursue this we are planning to have a 200-acre pharmaceutical zone in Hambantota and will get global pharmaceutical manufacturers to set up factories. We will also facilitate all clearance for their operations with local authorities.”

Electronic components manufacturing especially for global aviation, motor, and even pharmaceutical sector could be done in Sri Lanka.

ICT is another vertical and already top global players such as HCL, London Stock Exchange and IFS are using a local talent pool and we must pursue more global technology companies to invest in Sri Lanka. Agriculture too would be another area for inclusive growth.

Rubber exports only yield around USD 900 million revenue and increasing this by two folds will help to increase cash flow to rubber tappers and other minor staff. Avenues should be explored to increase production by way of replanting hybrid trees.

“We will also soon announce two special zones for rubber and Agri processing. In a bid to source fabric for the apparel industry, a 250 acre Fabric Park would be set up in Eravur.”

He identified the next vertical as hospitality and high-end tourism, wellness, and MICE which will be aggressively promoted with the Ministry of Tourism after the pandemic subsides.

The proposed highway extension to Arugam Bay will increase more demand for Mattala airport and the Deep South tourism will also receive a major boost.Since Sri Lanka is an island, the fisheries sector could also be a major source of income to Sri Lanka and promoting this segment will help fishermen to get better prices.

“We also have very fruitful discussions with Ambassadors from the UK and Korea and after the pandemic settle we expect positive developments.”

He said that Sri Lanka should execute FTA’s with countries like China, Japan, Korea and some European countries which are Sri Lanka’s key export destinations where we have huge access for exports. “If you take Vietnam they have 26 as against Sri Lanka’s handful which gives them key market access.”

Sri Lanka is looking for a USD 1,000 GDP and this is to be achieved with inclusive growth.

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