High-speed electric train manufacturing project | Sunday Observer

High-speed electric train manufacturing project

The Ministry of Development Strategies and International Trade responds to media reports regarding the high-speed electric train project:

Recently a series of articles have appeared in the media regarding a project to set up a manufacturing plant for high powered railway equipment and by those articles several misconceptions have been created with regard to the project.

First of all, it is necessary to point out that neither the Ministers or Ministry officials get involved in the approval process of investment projects. There is a standard procedure established to provide all investment approvals.

The Government established a comprehensive mechanism to deal with all major investment projects in a professional and transparent manner. For this purpose a high powered committee was set up in December 2016 to evaluate and approve large scale investments and fast track approval. This committee known as the Single Window Investment Approval Committee (SWIAC) is chaired by the Secretary to the Treasury and consists at present of the following senior officials:

The Economic Advisor to the President; the Senior Advisor to the Prime Minister; the Chairman, Board of Investment of Sri Lanka; the Chairman, Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority; the Technical Advisor to the Minister of Development Strategies & International Trade and one other member representing the Director Board of BOI.

Since 2016, the Committee has held 31 meetings where a total of 54 large scale projects have been processed. Out of these, 26 projects have been approved, a total of five of these projects have been deferred due to various reasons including insufficient information provided, or issues relating to policy decisions.

The High Speed Railway Project in question is one of the five of deferred projects where the investor had submitted incomplete information which made it not possible for SWIAC to approve. The current status of the project is that it is not rejected, but the investor in question needs to provide the necessary information requested by the Committee so that it could be considered for approval.

The reason why the project was deferred was because of concerns raised by the Committee regarding the past track record of the Company, technical know how, financial credibility of investors, market orientation and justification of the requirement of 4,000 acres of land for the project.

In view of the above, the Committee which met on August 4, 2017 was of the view that the decision could not be taken due to lack of clarity and information.

The investor was informed to re-submit the proposal by addressing the concerns identified by the Committee.

The proposal was re-submitted by the investor on October 11, 2017. But the Committee which met on November 10, 2017 ruled that approval was not possible because the investor failed to submit a comprehensive project proposal with the required information.

Accordingly, the SWIAC has instructed BOI to issue a letter to the investor to submit a comprehensive report.

This is a requirement which SWIAC requests from all investors and not just this project. It is important that all investors submit essential details required by SWIAC to grant approval. It is on this basis that 26 projects have been already approved which include 14 manufacturing projects, five Utility Projects, three projects involving, Tourism, Agriculture and IT and four infrastructure projects.

Therefore, the Ministry of development Strategies and International Trade categorically refutes the allegations that were made and wishes to point out that at all stages, the project was handled by BOI transparently, consistent with its role as a facilitator of projects that benefit the country. 

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