Sri Lanka asks expats help rebuild war-hit regions

October 12, 2009 (AFP) – Sri Lanka on Monday announced plans to tap its expatriate community to help rebuild the island’s war-ravaged areas and encourage much-needed foreign investments. President Mahinda Rajapakse has invited leading Sri Lankans abroad for a meeting to discuss investment opportunities following the crushing of Tamil separatists in May after nearly four-decades of fighting, his office said.

“The programme aims at using the knowledge, entrepreneurship and financial support of the Sri Lankan expatriates in order for them to be actively involved in the development process,” the statement said.

Sri Lankan nationals abroad will be invited for a two-day meeting to discuss investment opportunities early next month, the statement added.

Sri Lanka’s tiny stock exchange has gained rapidly following the defeat of Tamil Tiger guerrillas and the government has also secured a 2.6 billion dollar bail out from the IMF in a bid to revive the war-battered economy.

There are no firm estimates for the cost of reconstruction, but officials have said the government will need billions of dollars to build roads and other infrastructure in areas that were previously held by