Sri Lanka should move on to next generation of reforms to achieve USD50bn export target: PM


Aug 04, 2015 (LBO) – Sri Lanka has to move towards the next generation of reforms, opening up factor and product markets while fasting government approval procedures that gives are a hindrance to businesses, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said.

“Firstly it’s the question of mindset. The change of mindset in the private sector. From crony capitalism are we going to the next generation? Wickremesinghe asked.

“People want jobs, people want income, people want social mobility, are we providing that or not?”

“If we are doing so we have to be open. We have to do the next round of reforms.”

“We have to be outward looking. We cannot be an import-substitution economy and ask for a 50 billion dollars in exports.”

Wickremesinghe told an annual economic forum held in Colombo which is themed towards 50 billion dollars export.

Wickremesinghe said giving freehold lands, turning Colombo to a metro city in on pipeline in going forward.

Investors complain that Island’s authorities approval procedures consumes a lot of time and is a hindrance to businesses where a business has to go from one to many departments in different authorities to get an approval.

“How many organization do we have to handle exports, how many people are promoting investments? These are serious questions. Unless you are willing to find the bullet, you are not going to make it,” Wickremesinghe asked.

“At the moment we have 3 to 4 agencies that deal with one query.”

Wickremesinghe said the government is looking at a 40 days reply procedure for investment proposals and will establish one center for all the business activities granting provision.

“Sri Lanka has been a trading hub which controlled trade in the Bay of Bengal and up to China during the Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa periods,” Wickremesinghe said.

“The government had a role in the economy, but controls and regulations that prevented people from initiating activities and seeking approval from the government had to be reduced,”

“We have suffered enough and this country has to move ahead. We are capable of it. We cannot fail. We can only go up.”