BOI approves projects worth $1.38 b during 1Q | Sunday Observer

BOI approves projects worth $1.38 b during 1Q

Development Strategies and International Trade Minister Malik Samarawickrama, BOI Chairman Dumindra Ratnayake and DG, BOI Duminda Ariyasinghe launch the Single Window Investment Facilitation Taskforce (SWIFT).
Development Strategies and International Trade Minister Malik Samarawickrama, BOI Chairman Dumindra Ratnayake and DG, BOI Duminda Ariyasinghe launch the Single Window Investment Facilitation Taskforce (SWIFT).

The Board of Investment of Sri Lanka (BOI), the apex body for the promotion of foreign direct investments to the country (FDI) has approved projects to the tune of US$ 1.38 billion during the first four months this year, a top official of the BOI told a gathering to launch the Single Window Investment Facilitation Task Force (SWIFT) and sign MoUs with regulatory agencies at a ceremony held in Colombo last week.

Projects to the value of around $ 1.4 billion are also in the pipeline according to the official who did not disclose the names of the companies.

“We are confident of surpassing last years’ FDIs of $ 1.9 billion and notch around $ 2.5 billion worth of FDIs this year. We could possibly even go beyond $2.5 billion as we have already attracted a sizeable amount of FDIs for this year,” Development Strategies and International Trade Minister Malik Samarawickrama said.

However, Sri Lanka’s potential to woo in FDIS is much lower compared to its regional peers such as Singapore, Hong Kong and China who were the biggest recipients of foreign direct investments in 2017 despite a global decline during the year.

Singapore recorded $58 billion, Hong Kong $85 billion and China $144 billion worth of FDIs last year.

The $ 1.9 billion notched last year was the highest FDIs since $1.6 billion recorded in 2014 and a two fold increase compared to $ 802 million in 2016.

The Government has set an ambitious target of achieving US$ 3 billion FDIs by 2020 which economists say could be achieved provided there is consistency and transparency in policy and investment facilitation in the country.

The launch of SWIFT is the first step on the road to improve the investment climate in the country,” Minister Samarawickrama said.

The single window investment facilitation is said to reduce the lead time by around 20%.

However, the World Bank Country Director Idah Pswarayi-Riddihough said Sri Lanka should not stop at a 20% reduction in the time for approval but should target much more than that to attract more investments to the country.

‘Why stop at 20% when you could go much beyond that to tell investors that Sri Lanka is a place to invest. We need quality investments which are needed to create jobs for the youth to invest their skills,’ she said.

The one stop shop concept has been in operation for a considerable time . However, it has traditionally relied on the presence of officers of other agencies assigned to the BOI One Stop Shop to help facilitate projects.

The Single Window platform was signed with six state regulatory agencies such as the Department of the Registrar of Companies, Department of Inland Revenue, Central Environmental Authority, Colombo Municipal Council, Urban Development Authority and the Sri Lanka Customs.

BOI Chairman Dumindra Ratnayake said the Single Window Platform will help create a one-stop-shop, a virtual platform to facilitate investments with greater transparency and efficiency. The system will function under an Advisory Committee that will monitor performance of the system, examine complaints and act on feedback received from investors and intervene when bottlenecks and delays arise. The Advisory Committee will make recommendations on the system to introduce further improvements. 

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