Government Assures Potential Investors Stable Policy

  • Chinese investors have a lot to gain if they invest in Sri Lanka
  • China is currently involved in a major port city construction

by Easwaran Rutnam

The port facility at Hambantota and Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake

The government has assured potential investors a stable policy and invited them to make use of the opportunity in the country.

Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake said that the government is willing to discuss any concerns investors may have,

The budget of the government is aiming to lay a strong foundation for economic growth and lower poverty levels.

It also relaxes some red tape for investors as the country looks to focus on development over the next five years.

“Well I think for the first time we have brought in a sense of consistence and coherency. And given the way forward for how exports and foreign direct investments can take place, we have taken the ambiguity away on land, on taxation and on continuous government policy changes and I think we have rolled over the two years by being able to show the consistent coherency has come in. Foreign investors were asking many things and we have incorporated almost 95% of what they perceive to be as the risk areas of the investment. And I think we have satisfied them to the best of our ability,” the Minister said.

Karunanayake said the government will ensure that investors have confidence to put their money in Sri Lanka and ensure they have trust in the local system.

“Our job as a government is to provide, regulate and show the way forward and not to be involved in business, unlike the past. So I guess, the best – the only way we can increase the confidence factor, is walk the talk. So we will certainly be doing that. And any person who feels there is a grey area or ambiguity, is free to come and the government will respond, if it is a genuine call,” he said.

Karunanayake also noted that Chinese investors have a lot to gain if they invest in Sri Lanka, especially since the country is a central location in the region.

“At the moment from China it has not been foreign direct investment. It has been commercial lending. We see things from debt to equity coming in or taking place. So we appreciate that role. And we invite further Chinese companies to come and take advantage of the central location of Sri Lanka, which is useful on the European market, on the Indian area, on the general trading. And I guess they have seen the potential. And basically, we are very happy to be of service to them,” he said.

China is heavily involved in Sri Lanka’s development agenda and has already funded the construction of roads, highways, a new port and airport and other infrastructure.

China is currently involved in a major port city construction in the capital and the project will give Sri Lankans jobs and, once completed, help boost the local economy. The port city, now named ‘Financial City’ will initially operate as a hub between Dubai and Singapore and some of the top international banks will operate from the new city.

The financial city will look to promote business between India, other Asian countries, Middle East and Europe.

“We expect the financial city to help to contribute almost 5% of our GDP by within three-four years of operations. And within 10 years to be at least 12% of GDP. That would be the impact to be measured of the success of the financial city,” the Finance Minister said.

Sri Lanka is offering foreign investors like those from China concessions and Karunanayake says the ultimate goal is to ensure more and more job opportunities open up for Sri Lankans.

“We give the concessions on an even basis to everybody, not a particular country. We have given it, open to everybody. We encourage people to make maximum use of it.

Our entire role is to bring job creation, value addition, so that it helps to boost our reserves, as well as ensure it is a Sri Lankan point production, so that you are able to sell the name and go forward,” he said.

China is to open over 150 factories in the southern city of Hambantota in an investment zone which will help solve unemployment in the area.

Karunanayake says the Hambantota investment zone will play a pivotal role in the future of the country, especially by helping boost some idle assets in the area. “Once it is incorporated there it will spark off an industrial-led township development. So that’s why we believe in putting our emphasis into Hambantota, because there is a lot of capital tied up there. So that’s why we are trying to free that so that some revenue will come in for the assets that are tied up there,” he said.

Sri Lanka and China are meanwhile discussing a Free Trade Agreement which will mainly look at the apparel sector, tea, gem and jewellery, rubber, coconut and spices.

The Finance Minister said that Sri Lanka and China have enjoyed a very healthy relationship from the 1950’s and it is his government’s intention to further strengthen that relationship.

“Our President and our Prime Minister both are committed and we as a team look forward to taking on that agenda,” he said. Apart from infrastructure development, China is also leading in the tourism sector with over 20,000 Chinese tourists arriving in October, up 19.8 per cent from the same period last year. Officials had said this week that Chinese tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka are projected to grow by a further 10.2 per cent in the coming six months.


2 Comments for “Government Assures Potential Investors Stable Policy”

  1. Eng.M.V.R.Perera

    We have one of the highest priced electricity in the world while countries like Vietnam have one of the lowest priced electricity in the world and are lowering it further by by going for huge coal power projects as such the preference of the investors would be counties like Vietnam and will be avoiding us

  2. Tissa Atapattu

    December 16, 2016

    Myself and my partner are both U.S. Investors in a major BOI approved project with a Blue Chip Sl company as our partner. We commenced 3 years ago but we have had nothing but problems with government organizations and currently, our project is on HOLD. Certainly NOT a good advertisement for Foreign Investment.

    I would certainly like a meeting with Minister with the hope he can help. Atken Spence know where to contact me as I will be in SL for a short time.

    Tissa Atapattui

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