Written by Hiran H. Senewiratne
22 October 2015 - The Board of Investment of Sri Lanka (BOI), while having more than US$ 4 billion worth investment projects in the pipeline, is taking systematic steps towards protecting existing investments.
This was the general backdrop to the news that Dialog Axiata Plc had entered into an agreement with the BOI on Wednesday to invest Rs 25.6 billion to improve Sri Lanka’s ICT infrastructure facilities.
“Those foreign direct investment ventures awaiting implementation include a gantry crane plant with a ship building facility at Colombo Port,a monorail and control centre and a ship- breaking project at Hambantotota, BOI chairman Upul Jayasuriya said at an event organized by the CCC in Colombo recently, which also featured the participation of the German ambassador to Sri Lanka.
The BOI chief said with the inflow of FDI picking-up and many enquiries coming from foreign investors, the BOI is now in the process of building investor confidence by following the Extraordinary Gazette notification issued in 2006 combined with the regulations made by the Minister of Enterprise Development and Investment Promotion under Section 24 of the Board of Investment of Sri Lanka Law, No 4 of 1978.
“Despite issues in the international arena concerning the Volkswagen car manufacturing company, the proposed assembly project agreement that was signed with BOI will proceed without any hindrances, the BOI chief said.
“Sri Lanka was able to secure US $ 1.6 billion worth FDI but the BOI is now planning to sign more than US$ 4 billion worth foreign investment projects with four major companies. Therefore BOI is now not considering numbers or figures but is more interested in the quality of the investment, Jayasuriya said.
He said that to attract and facilitate more FDIs into the country they are now planning to set-up 45 economic zones, similar to Free Trade Zones, which have more access to labour. Today we see major labour shortages in all four Free Trade Zones in the country. In Katunayake Free Trade Zone there is more than a 5000 labour shortage, he said.
With the setting up of these 45 economic zones it would have a direct solution for the labour issue because employment opportunities could be generated within the relevant areas, he said.
Hereafter, every investor has to invest immediately once he signs agreements, he said.
Meanwhile, Dialog Axiata Plc entered into an agreement with BOI to invest Rs 25.6 billion or US $175 million to improve the island’s ICT infrastructure, the company said in a filing to the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE).
The investment agreement spans a broad scope of ICT infrastructure development by the Dialog Group encompassing the expansion of 3rd generation and 4th generation high speed broadband services alongside further development of the Group’s fiber optic transmission network, international telecommunication network and digital satellite television infrastructure.
The company says it will also direct targeted investments towards the expansion of its digital services portfolio, spanning ventures and initiatives in digital payment, commerce education and health.