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DateLine Sunday, 22 April 2007

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BOI to woo maximum investment, boost economic growth - Chairman



BOI’s new Chairman and Director General Dhammika Perera addresses the media
Pic by Sumanachandra Ariyawansa

The Board of Investment of Sri Lanka (BOI) will be transformed into an efficient and investor friendly institution to attract maximum investment that will create employment opportunities and boost economic growth, said BOI's new Chairman and Director General Dhammika Perera who assumed duties on Wednesday.

He said the BOI will not depend entirely on foreign investors but encourage locals to invest on infrastructure development projects that would be more beneficial to the country in line with the Mahinda Chintana. The progress of the BOI over the past 30 years has not been satisfactory in keeping pace with developments in the modern world.

The institution has been depending too much on foreign investments and as a result local investments dried up over the years. Local and foreign investors will be treated alike and there would no discrimination, Perera said.

Commenting on the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) report that the BOI is an inefficient organisation, the new chairman said COPE has been making the same allegation for the past five years and had the officials taken steps to restructure and improve the set up of the BOI the institution would have been much better than earlier.

The chairman said that he would make maximum use of unutilised land and human resources for the development of the country. Over 60 percent of the BOI land at the Katunayake Free Trade Zone is unutilised and speedy action will be taken to make optimum use of it for development projects.

The talents and skills of small and medium entrepreneurs in the rural sector and traders in and around Colombo will be provided training to boost their entrepreneurial skills. The BOI is targeting US$ 4 billion in terms of local and FDIs with infrastructure development this year.

When asked about what strategies have been planned to achieve the set target, he said an investor-friendly and confidence building approach supported by a faster documentation process will bring in better results than expected.

Unlike in BOIs in other countries the documentation process in Sri Lanka takes approximately six months. He said the security in the country which is said to be an impediment for investors is an exaggeration. Over 500 applicants are seeking approval for projects this year.

This is an indication that security is not an obstacle for investors who are willing to invest in the country. Responding to a question that the institution has not been quite focused in carrying out its task the BOI Chairman said he would not leave anything at policy level but ensure that they are implemented in a shorter period of time.

Some local investors allege that the BOI rejects new applications for pro projects by obtaining money from companies who want to maintain a monopoly.

He said there will not be any conflict of interests with his ownership of companies and heading a State institution since he does not chair the companies.

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