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    BOI hosts a diplomat delegation

    August 16, 2016

    The Board of Investment of Sri Lanka (BOI) recently hosted a delegation of 26 foreign diplomats from 20 countries who are currently undergoing training at the Bandaranaike International Diplomatic Training Institute (BIDTI).  The group of diplomats was from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Iran, Iraq, Kenya, Laos, Malaysia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Palestine, Papua New Guinea, Seychelles, Tanzania, Thailand, Vietnam and Sri Lanka.

    The group was led by Ms Pamela Deen Director General of the BIDTI assisted by several officers of the Institute. The overseas diplomats are part of a program under the guidance of the late Mr. Lakshman Kadirgamar, former Foreign Minister of Sri Lanka who introduced the program in 1997 to build closer relations between Sri Lanka and other developing countries, with the objective of strengthening South – South international co-operation.

     

    BOI Chairman Mr. Upul Jayasuriya briefed the delegation on the role of the BOI established in 1978.  The Chairman described the important role of the organization in opening Sri Lanka’s economy to international trade and investment. Furthermore Sri Lanka was the first country in the South Asian Region to liberalize its economy, just after Singapore in South East Asia.  The first BOI Zone was opened shortly after the establishment of the Board and was followed by the second Zone at Biyagama. Chairman Jayasuriya also added that the current Government which was the same that had been in power in 1978 was very keen to fast track investment approvals in Sri Lanka.

     

    He stated that BOI enjoys many powers in the area of immigration control, Inland Revenue, exchange control and customs to facilitate the international investor community.  Sri Lanka would have achieved considerable benefits had it not been for the conflict. The Chairman said that currently the BOI is looking at implementing improvements to fast track investment so that the investors can focus on his or her business rather than spending time in obtaining approvals. He added that a new Constitution is being drafted in Sri Lanka and this would address the requirements of the investor community.

     

    Currently nearly 2000 enterprises operate under the BOI of which only about 300 are located at the Export Processing Zones.  

     

    Hence the mandate of the BOI has grown as well as the diversity of the investments. The Chairman stated that the BOI wants to achieve a situation where“we areboth pragmatic and practical”.  Ms. Deen said that Mr. Jiang Zeminformer General Secretary of the Communist Party of China had visited the BOI Zone at Katunayake in the early 1980s.  This was many years before the Chinese economy was liberalized.  

     

    Assisting Chairman Upul Jayasuriya were Mr. Prasanjith Wijayathilake Executive Director (Promotion) and Mr. Dilip S. Samarasinghe Director (Media & Publicity).  The delegation was shown the BOI corporate video and briefed on Sri Lanka’s investment climate by Mr. Dilip S. Samarasinghe Director (Media & Publicity).

     

    Sri Lanka had indeed beena pioneerin the field of Zone development but had lagged behind during the conflict years.  The BOI also arranged for the diplomats to visit the Katunayake Export Processing Zone where they were briefedon Zone Management by Ms. Himali Urugodawatte, Director / Industrial Relations – KEPZ.

     

    The diplomats also visited two enterprises located at Katunayake Export Processing Zone namely Okaya Lanka (Pvt) Ltd a Japanese electronics component manufacturer and the MAS Shadowline (Pvt) Ltd factory specializing in making sportswear. The visit by this delegation of diplomats to the BOI helped create a better understanding of Sri Lanka’s economic potential.

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