‘FDIs will drive future economic growth’
Sri Lanka’s business environment is driven by politics, and it needs
to change regardless of the people who sit in Government.
Our future Government hopes to put in place a framework to ensure
that confidence will return and business will operate without political
interference, Highways, Higher Education and Investment Promotion Deputy
Minister Eran Wickramaratne told Sunday Observer Business.
Wickramaratne said that future economic growth will be driven by
foreign direct investment (FDI).Our future Government hopes to drive the
economy forward through foreign direct investment and local investment
unlike the previous regime’s policy of public investment and foreign
Foreign investors did not invest in Sri Lanka in the recent past
because the ousted regime demanded bribes and commissions to approve
investments, he said.Wickramaratne said several foreign investment
projects will be launched, including automobile, computer and
agricultural equipment factories in Sri Lanka. Investments of this
nature could produce a large number of job opportunities.
“Sri Lanka has many skilled people in the areas of technology and was
open to other areas of investment as well.
The government will continue some of the projects launched by the
previous regime, especially roads and highways, and the only difference
will be that our government will do business in a transparent manner,”
the Deputy Minister said.
“Our government looks forward to ensuring sustainable development and
industrialisation. Major changes such as strengthening the rule of law,
creating a healthy balance between the executive and parliament and an
independent judiciary will be priorities,” Wickremeratne said.
The country’s foreign policy has been rebalanced and its strength as
a logistical hub connecting the rest of the world, has been
Wickremeratne said that the government held several rounds of
discussions with a number of foreign companies to set up a factory to
make vehicles for export. Further discussions will be held after the
election with foreign companies to set up factories. Foreign investors
are keen to invest because the post January government assured them fair
and transparent investment opportunities, he said.
A leading German automobile manufacturer, Volkswagen has again
renewed its call to open a manufacturing plant in the Kurunegala
district and its products will be exported to South Asian and African
countries. The company hopes to manufacture vans and its popular Jetta
and Passat vehicles.
After the election victory the Government hopes to increase
investments several-fold to create many job opportunities.
Foreign investors will be given special concessions. We look forward
to bring in investments which cause no damage to the indigenous culture,
beliefs and traditions. “We will always ensure that the concessions
given to foreign investors will create a healthy environment for local
industries,” he added
Local businessmen will have easy access to finance. There should be a
proper development-banking system by which small industries at regional
level could benefit. We also hope to give technical expertise and proper
services to people who are keen on investing in medium or small
Our future Government will provide services and advice to small and
medium enterprises too. Priority will be given to financial support and
finding a market for their products.
The late President R. Premadasa took industry to the villages by
setting up 200 garment factories. The UNP was the pioneer in providing
employment opportunities to the poor in the rural areas.“Apart from the
Free Trade Zones set up in different parts of the country during the UNP
regime, we hope to set up special industries in rural areas for educated
youth. We are in the process of identifying suitable areas,”
The country began to move from agriculture to industry since late
President J.R. Jayawardena’s era. At present the revenue from industrial
exports has dropped.“When the UNP Government gave up power in 1994,
exports as a percentage of the GDP was 32 percent and today it has come
down to 16 percent. This is not a healthy feature. Our manufacturing
sector should be developed. It is time to review as to why Sri Lanka has
become less competitive in the manufacturing sector compared to other
countries in the region,” the Deputy Minister said.