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Capitalise on lost opportunities

Tycoon Harry Jayawardena calls for more BoI concessions for global players:

Sri Lanka still has an opening to capitalise on lost opportunities to woo top investors and achieve economic prosperity Chairman Lanka Distillers and Company and business magnate Harry Jayawardena said.

Speaking at the Business Today Top 10 awards ceremony at the Presidential Secretariat yesterday he said that if Vietnam can do it Sri Lanka too could follow suit. He said that the very countries that bombed Vietnam are investing in that country and Sri Lanka should seriously look at inviting more top global companies and they should be given more BoI concessions.

The first opportunity was lost when Sri Lanka was ahead of Singapore in the 1950's and the Country did not concentrate on the shipping sector. "The second was when the decision makers failed to invite entrepreneurs who were leaving Hong Kong when it was transferred to China.

Countries such as Canada, India and Singapore seized this opportunity," he said. Jayawardena also said that when the open economy was introduced 1977 the then authorities should have made a more aggressive approach to woo more investors.

Permanent peace is a must for economic development and said that he was saddened to note that the victories in the Eastern Province have got negative publicity.

He also said that he forecast a lean period for the travel industry and decided to venture in to both India and the Maldives and the move would pay off soon. "I think it is time for local companies go global," he said.

Ceylon Tobacco and Distilleries are the only two companies from the manufacturing sector that had continuously qualified to be in the Business Today Top 10. Distilleries returned to the top of the list after having lost its position to John Keells Holdings last year.

The Bukit Darah, the holding company of the Carsons Group with further interests overseas entered the Business Today TOP 10 list last year and continued to stay on it, at ninth position in the year 2005 - 2006.

Analyst Keith Bernard who made the keynote address said that as a country Sri Lanka is gifted with a pool of talent and strong business leaders that have shown resilience in the face of adversity.

"The answer to the challenges posed today as you would agree is not to stay complaining or drifting in hope, but finding the foresight and courage that you are endowed with to push steadfastly forward - as the corporate front runners you have to lead the way," he said.

To be a Top 10 winner all candidates must be a public quoted companies. Companies active in the Colombo Stock Exchange are selected and that list is further narrowed in terms of turnover.

BT Options publishes Business Today, Explore Sri Lanka and Target and operates BT Store.

Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickramanayake also participated.

Business Today Top 10 for year 2005 - 2006 were: 1) Distilleries Company of Sri Lanka, 2) Sri Lanka Telecom, 3) Dialog Telekom, 4) John Keells Holdings, 5) Commercial Bank, 6) Hatton National Bank, 7) Ceylon Tobacco Company, 8) Aitken Spence and Company, 9) Bukit Darah and 10) Hayleys.

 

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