FDIs coming into Sri Lanka under Yahapalanaya govt. – PM
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe says that Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into Sri Lanka was likely to see a considerable rise exceeding the 2014 amount of USD 1.6 billion.
The Premier made this observation addressing a gathering at the gem and jewellery exhibition FACETS at the BMICH.
He also said that Minister of International Trade and Development Strategies, Minister Malik Samarawickrama had recently told him that 300% higher FDI than during 2014 had been drawn in.
In 2014 Sri Lanka attracted USD 1.6 billion worth of FDI, but in 2016 fellto 54% amounting to USD 450 million year-on-year, compared with the 2015 total of USD 970 million. To rectify the declining FDI the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) restructured the BOI and has made attempts to develop the country’s ease of doing business index.
The Premier expressed his optimism regarding the proposed three new LNG plants that will be initiated within coming months. Two of the plants will receive Japanese funding with the third expected to be Chinese funded and a tender for a fourth plant announced soon after.
“We concentrated on stabilising the macroeconomic environment during the past two years. When we took over, debt was a huge problem and no one believed that we would be able to tackle it. But now we have strengthened the economy and from this point onwards we can concentrate on specific sectors. That is why I have asked the gem and jewellery industry to ready their proposals and come to us to discuss them,” Wickremesinghe said.
He advised the industry to focus on increasing its earnings to USD 150 million from its present total of USD 500 million and pledged his support in this endeavour. Wickremesinghe also advised on uniting the gem and jewellery industry under one common legislative framework, instead of relying on the governance of different departments and institutions to make piecemeal changes.
“Our reputation for gems predates our reputation for tea or apparels. There is evidence that we traded gems thousands of years ago. However, sadly this momentum was lost and now many destinations outside Sri Lanka, such as Hong Kong, have become hubs for the gem industry. Sri Lankans are now travelling to other countries to find gems for imports,” he said.
Though at present the industry employs around 400,000 persons, the Premier suggested that industry leaders consider strengthening the workforce by another 100,000. He qualified that it was not possible for the gem mining sector to accommodate this additional workforce without the assistance of the jewellery.
Wickremesinghe stressed the importance of proactively marketing and promoting Sri Lanka’s gem industry around the world, advocating that extensive coverage be given to the brand, “Ceylon Sapphires” to create awareness of the country’s premium standards in gems. He further stated that the GoSL would consider the possibility of setting up a trade zone exclusively for the gem and jewellery industry if there was interest on the part of its participants.
Streamlining the legislative process that governs the gem and jewellery industry will reduce bureaucratic interference.
The proposal to set-up a dedicated trade zone for the industry will provide the opportunity for interested individuals to start businesses in Sri Lanka.
This will also give the opportunity for enterprising businesses to diversify into areas of brining in innovation and technology to further enhance the industry and create another sub-sector within it.
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