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Victory & Beyond | dailynews.lk

Bright future for this country

As the conflict in this country has finally come to an end after 26 years, there is considerable optimism that Sri Lanka will experience economic growth. This is due to the considerable resilience of the Sri Lankan economy and a growth in investor confidence on the part of the international community.

Notwithstanding the global economic crisis, the BoI is confident that better times lay ahead. We owe this optimism to the comparatively good performance of the country in several key areas relating to investment.

For example the number of companies starting operations have been relatively consistent. In 2008, altogether 81 enterprises that operate under the BoI regime, commenced operations. Hence enterprises continued to start operations despite the crisis.

We have also been able to reach the highest ever level of FDI in the history of the BoI. In 2008 Sri Lanka posted US$ 885 million compared to US$ 734 million in 2007. Sri Lanka can therefore realistically aim for the US$ 1 billion target that has been set for FDI in 2009.

The BoI's main contribution to the national economy lies in export. In 2008 BoI enterprises exported US$ 5.3 billion worth of goods and services. This represents 65% of all Sri Lanka's exports.

In employment terms, BoI enterprises hire over 450,000 workers. These are some of the most skilled jobs in the local industry.

There are also some positive factors about Sri Lanka. The FDI Magazine listed Sri Lanka as the 7th most business friendly city in Asia out of a sample of 200 cities. In the same survey, Colombo was also listed the 7th most cost-effective city out of 200. Sri Lanka is also placed 29th in the world for ease in "starting a business" in the World Bank's Doing Business Index.

Given these factors the prospects for Sri Lanka are likely to be good. I see the liberation of the North and the East playing an important part in our future strategy for investment, notably in the tourism, agro industries and manufacturing sectors.

There is also a strong likelihood that infrastructure development will become a leading sector as far as investment is concerned.

In the long-term however the transformation of Sri Lanka as a logistics and business hub must be our objective. The end of the war will mean a bright future for this country and Sri Lanka will be able to attain her true potential.

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