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Sri Lanka must tackle corruption to lure investors: US envoy

Nov 27, 2009 (LBO) - Sri Lanka must act against corrupt government officials and businessmen and ensure local firms play fair with foreign companies if it wants to attract investors, the American envoy to the island has said. It needs to unshackle the media, be more open to trade and better protect intellectual property rights to use the opportunity for economic growth provided by the end of the ethnic war, said US ambassador Patricia Butenis.

"It is time for public money to stop lining the pockets of the rich and powerful in both government and private sector," she declared in a recent speech before the American Chamber of Commerce, Sri Lanka.

"To maximize international investment and economic development, it’s time for a call for a 'war on corruption'. Laws need to be strengthened. And people need to expect and demand their public servants and private companies to uphold those laws."

Perceptions were important in trying to woo foreign investors and transparency is an important requirement, Butenis said.

Butenis said the government is doing a good job in modernising infrastructure but needs to work on what she called the 'software' issues like transparency, government efficiency, protection of intellect

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