‘Sri Lanka needs to refine its fund securing processes’ | Sunday Observer

‘Sri Lanka needs to refine its fund securing processes’

Sri Lanka will be able to access an enormous pool of funds to finance its development objectives by participating in China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Managing Director of Hairong Investments International (Pvt) Limited, Dr. Palitha Kohona said and further added that Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has enthusiastically welcomed the BRI. Currently, Sri Lanka at the moment hasn’t got the investment funds to finance its development programme. The BRI provides a unique and unparalleled opportunity to Sri Lanka to tap into funds it would need to achieve its own goals.

“These funds will not come with conditions attached as in the case of accessing funds from other funding sources. A country needs investments to progress. These investments could either come from savings or the trade surplus of the country. Sri Lanka does not have either ,” Dr. Kohona said.

However, the former ambassador to the UN noted that Sri Lanka on its part will need to refine the way it goes about to secure funding for its development needs. The goals must be identified clearly, the necessary due diligence must be conducted; national priorities must be identified while at the same time being sensitive to social, political and environmental needs.

“It is only if we approach the funding issue in this manner can we deal with China and other entities in a professional manner that protects the national interest. It will be a unique opportunity to know how each other could contribute to and benefit from each other. The Chinese government is keen to invest around US$ 4-8 trillion in the BRI which is a phenomenal figure,” Dr. Kohona said.

He said that Pakistan has already contributed around US$ 56 billion and Ethiopia $ 20 billion. The National Chamber of Commerce of Sri Lanka (NCCSL) and Hairong International will help create partnerships and business opportunities for the business community in Sri Lanka which has enormous things to offer the world.

“To the north it has the massive Indian market, to the west the African economies which are growing rapidly due to Chinese investments and Sri Lanka too could grasp that opportunity. To the East, Sri Lanka has Indonesia and to the south Australia. Sri Lanka has been identified as a critical point in the BRI. It has been a trading hub for 2000 years. We want to make Sri Lanka that trading hub once again,” he said.

The NCCSL with the China Federation and Industrial Economics and Hairong Investment International are in the process of promoting investment and business ties between Sri Lanka and China.

The NCCSL was accepted as a member of the Belt and Road Industrial and Commercial Alliance (BRICA), an organisation promoting business and investment among its 27 member countries at a ceremony held at the NCCSL last week . BRICA is represented by its local affiliate, Hairong Investments International which is headed by Dr. Palitha Kohona as Managing Director.

BRICA is a multilateral cooperation mechanism established by the China Federation of Industrial Economics (CFIE) in May, 2015 in Beijing, to advance the Belt and Road Initiative of China on the Ancient Silk Road. BRICA currently has 25 industrial and commercial organisations from 27 countries in Asia, Europe, Middle East, Africa and Latin America. The new alliance, which was sponsored by the CFIE aims to boost trade and investment among its members, providing comprehensive services in funding support, investment consultation, and resource sharing. Hairong Investments International, China,Chairman Pan Liang said Hairong International with Chinese companies will help Sri Lanka with the investments to construct a convention centre in Colombo.

“We are in the process of looking for land for the centre,” he said.

“ BRICA has already commenced supporting infrastructure and economic development in the regions along the route since its launch three years ago,” an official of Hairong Investments International China said.

The Belt and Road initiative launched by China in 2013 connects countries from the continents of Asia, Europe and Africa. However, as pointed by a journalist at the media briefing in Colombo last week, the large number of languages used by trading partners along the way is a stumbling block for the progress of the BRI.