- Created on Thursday, 24 January 2013 13:19
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The Board of Investment of Sri Lanka has turned to a highly respected and proven business builder from Australia to steer the country's premier investment promotion and facilitation agency during one of its most crucial periods.
Dr Jayaweera's appointment as Chairman/ Director General of the BOI by the President comes at a crucial juncture of time when Sri Lanka, having emerged from three decades of conflict in 2009, needs to effectively promote investment in order to achieve the goals set by the Government for the BOI. This will pave the way to a new promotional strategy on FDI attraction which will implement the current goals which take into account global changes.
Among these goals are the development of a number of thrust sectors such as tourism, manufacturing, IT and IT enabled services, infrastructure and other vital areas. Furthermore, the tourism sector, Sri Lanka is seeking large scale and strategic investments to boost her infrastructure. Furthermore, import substitution of a number of products such as cement, tires and dairy products through investment are also priorities of the BOI.
The appointment of a BOI Chairman with a overseas private sector background will help Sri Lanka attract more investments at a time when global inflows of FDI have fallen, but where developed economies are expected to recover partly from the global recession.
Dr Lakshman Jayaweera, a Sydney based chemical engineer who built a leading resource recovery and chemical company called HydroMet Corporation Ltd to be an industry leader has been appointed the Chairman and Director General of the BOI. Dr Jayaweera possesses over 35 years of experience in worldwide corporate and business ventures, resource development, alternative energy, environmental and chemical sector in Australia and elsewhere.
Dr Jayaweera who held a senior position with the mining giant Rio Tinto Corporation launched HydroMet in 1987. He stepped down from HydroMet (listed in the Australian Securities Exchange, ASX) last May after serving the company in a succession of key roles for over 25 years, including Controlling Share Holder, Founder Director and Chairman, following the successful takeover bid of the company by a foreign party and divesting his shareholding to the same party.
During this period, HydroMet became one of the significant producers of high purity Selenium and Tellurium metals which is the main component in the manufacturing solar panels using the thin film technology today. As a result of his deep knowledge in the above metals, during his last few years, he has also been actively exploring new technology ventures in the solar energy sector with the view to establish low cost solar energy plants. Currently, he is actively involved in number of business ventures both in Australia and overseas as an investor and as well as in advisory boards for several international companies including recent directorship of an ASX listed Australian Company, Queensland Mining Corporation Ltd.
The BOI which is tasked with attracting Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) to Sri Lanka completes 35 years of existence in 2013. In this time, it has acted as an engine of growth creating a considerable impact on the country’s economic development. The organization had its origins in the Greater Colombo Economic Commission, which was established in 1978 to generate development in the outskirts of Colombo. Fourteen years later, in 1992, the Commission was reconstituted as the BOI with its mandate encompassing the entire island.
BOI companies employ over 450,000 workers and account for nearly 60% of Sri Lankan exports and 80% of the country’s industrial exports. With the ending of the nearly three decade old civil conflict, the BOI has been playing a crucial role in the attraction of investments to sectors such as Tourism, Infrastructure, Knowledge Services, Manufacturing and Agriculture.
Dr Jayaweera's in depth global experience in working with multi-nationals and in building a successful business will be a tremendous asset to the BOI as it pursues aggressive targets in the highly competitive global battle for attracting FDI.
Dr Jayaweera holds a PhD in Chemical Engineering from the University of New South Wales (UNSW), Sydney and a Master of Science in Chemistry & Chemical Engineering (First Class) from the Peoples’ Friendship University, Moscow, USSR.