Sri Lanka has USD5 bn FDI in pipeline: BOI’s Upul Jayasuriya

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Oct 19, 2015 (LBO) – Sri Lanka has five billion US dollar worth of investments in the pipeline and the main goal of the island’s investment promotion office is to facilitate those investments, the Board of Investment (BOI) Chief told a forum held in Colombo.

“Our main goal is to facilitate these investments,” Upul Jayasuriya, Chairman of BOI said.

“If we are seeking to bring FDIs into our country, the first step that we have to take is to care for the current investors, because it is from them the possible or potential investors will get the message whether to come or not,” he said.

“So it is important therefore to address the issues of current investors with a liberal mind to facilitate and permit them to go on, which now we are doing awfully the other side.”

He said that Sri Lanka had 1650 million US dollar worth of FDI in 2014.

The investments which are in the pipeline includes monorail which is worth 1.9 billion US dollars and a mix development project with a billion dollar investment, Jayasuriya said.

Therefore it is high time for BOI to change the attitudes and thinking patterns to enable faster service to facilitate investors, he said.

“We have to think out of the box. We have to be the golden wine in the picture for the facilitation of the investor and the investment, without it, we cannot go on this journey,” Jayasuriya said.

“So we have to change the investment climate. We have adjusted some laws and policies,”

However Jayasuriya didn’t mentioned the government’s target for FDI this year but said the island is expecting top notch investors from India in early next year while Japan also has responded positively after the Prime Ministers visit to there.

“Many delegations come into Sri Lanka but you have to give them a little time to understand the current system and changes that we have implemented,”

“Just because the government has changed they are not going to come and invest here. So it will take some time.”

He added that Sri Lanka lost many foreign investments under the former Rajapaksa regime due to the demands for bribes by officials.

“One investor said ‘adios’ when an upfront bribe was demanded for 25 million dollars,” Jayasuriya said.

“There was the son of a VIP and the son of a VVIP – you have to get through these two officers.”

“We have brought an end to this era – that’s no more,” he said.

“I tell every investor now that their cost is only the investment you’re making and nothing beyond it.”