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Moves under way to attract foreign investment for N-E:

Foreigners eager to invest here - Minister

Information and Media and Enterprise Development and Investment Promotion Minister Anura Priyadharshana Yapa told Parliament yesterday that the Government has prepared blueprints to attract massive foreign investment to develop the Northern and Eastern provinces under the Uthuru Vasanthaya and Negenahira Udanaya programs.

Foreign investors have shown a keen interest to invest in Sri Lanka due to moves taken by the Government to defeat terrorism and achieve lasting peace, he said.

The Minister speaking at the Debate on the Board of Investment of Sri Lanka (Amendment) Bill, said the Government through the BoI has made arrangements to create more investment opportunities to the foreign investors who are willing to invest here.

"The Government has also provided an opportunity to invest in the country's education sector as well," Minister Yapa said.

During the past few years, a large number of foreign investors have come to Sri Lanka from countries such as China, India, Pakistan and Turkey. In addition, the BoI sent its investment promotion officers to various foreign countries to canvass foreign investment. "We are fully confident that massive development will take place in relation to country's investment sector very soon".

According to the Minister, the BoI has been able to generate 8,170 new employment opportunities last year. In addition, 7,836 employment opportunities have been created during 2007 while 7,921 employment opportunities have been generated in 2006. The BoI has also able to create 7,780 new employment opportunities in 2005.

There are 143 projects (2005), 115 projects (2006), 108 projects (2007) and 114 projects (2008) in relation to food and beverages, apparel, wood craft, petroleum, chemical, agriculture and other service sectors.

These new projects have been established in Anuradhapura, Badulla, Batticaloa, Trincomalee, Hambantota, Puttalam, Galle and Colombo districts, he said. At present, 117,817 employees are working in 268 BoI approved factories established in export processing zones country wide. The Ministry through the BoI has made arrangements to safeguard the rights of employees who work in these BoI approved factories, the Minister said.

Minister Yapa said the BoI through the establishment of new factories has been able to create a large number of employment opportunities and develop many areas by bringing new technology to those respective areas.

The BoI granted a series of tax concessions to various industries and other service sectors to encourage the investors. Special exchange rate concessions have been given to companies which export less than 80 percent of their products, he said.

"In a situation where the entire world faced an economic recession, immediate measures were taken by the BoI to provide relief to industrialists on the directive of the President. A high profile committee was appointed to look into investor problems. Initiatives were also taken to sort out the problems in the apparel sector. The BoI is always ready to assist investors to overcome their problems," the Minister said.

Steps have also been taken to sort out the problems faced by the investors in relation to their exports at international level. The BoI has also introduced special relief programs for the benefit of industrialists who have faced economic hardships.

They have been given a six month grace period to pay the interest on their loans. In addition, the Government has given a huge relief package to industrialists, he said.

The BoI has decided to give approval to the investors without delay. As a policy, the Government is very keen to encourage investors and provide them all facilities.

After establishment of the BoI, Sri Lanka has able to attract massive foreign investment.

Therefore, the BoI has played a leading role to develop the country's production and the technology sectors, the Minister added.



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