Sunday, February 5, 2023

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New agency takes up BOI ,EDB & SLEIC to accelerate foreign investment

High regulatory powered investment promotion agency (authority) will take up the task of expediting the attraction of foreign direct investment (FDI) in to the country efficiently and expeditiously, State Minister of Finance Shehan Semasinghe disclosed

Special committee appointed by President Ranil Wickremasinghe has already made a recommendation to set up this new agency by bringing the Board of Investment (BOI), the Export Development Board (EDB) and the Sri Lanka Export Credit Insurance Corporation (SLECIC) together onto one platform, he said.

National Enterprise Development Authority (NEDA) and other entities that support exports and investments will also come under the purview of the new agency.

The budget 2023 has allocated Rs 100 million to implement the investment and export sector reforms expeditiously.

These institutions connected to investment and exports will function under the proposed new agency following the re-enacting of 1978 Greater Colombo Economic Commission (GCEC) laws making it compatible with modern day needs.

The government has taken this decision after evaluating the performance of the these institutions during the recent past.

On average, it takes around 170 days to approve an investment project in Sri Lanka as these processes involve over 40 line agencies, it has been observed.

At present there are 73 project proposals are still to get approval at around 10 different agencies. The delay in approving the projects is not auger well for investors.

The aim is to expedite and stream line the investment approval process to cater to the needs of investors within four or five days under one roof on the directions of the President.

President Wickremasinghe has also instructed to introduce efficient system replacing present slow and lethargic investment promotion and approval processes with the using of modern IT and digital technology.

The EDB and the BOI will hve to work together as there is a very strong economic connection between investments and exports of the country, he said.

The new agency will bring these to entities together in the successful attraction of FDI into the country which will result in enhancing the country’s export earnings via the export earning enterprises.

This in turn leads to wealth creation and employment generation which is a common goal of both entities, he added.

Minister Semasighe said that the presidential committee is continuing discussions to devise a methodology to bring these four institutions and other line agencies under one platform of the new agency and recommend necessary reforms required to overhaul the whole structure and the relevant investment authorities.

He pointed out that the President and the government are fully determined to introduce new laws and reforms to facilitate small and medium scale enterprises (SME sector) to enter the export market.

Special Committee discussions are underway on preferential interest rates and insurance premium discounts for exporting SMEs, credit line privileges, product development exclusive to SMEs, etc.

SLEDB may consider reinforcing overseas market investigation to help promoting export and FDI for SMEs develop overseas markets, he added.

Sri Lanka’s Special Economic Zone (SEZ) policy will also undergo major reform.along with the rearrange and reposition the existing industrial promotion zones and export promotion zones. (EPZs), a high ranking treasury official disclosed.

The President has also instructed to explore the possibility of the setting up of thousand-acre industrial zones and initiating them from Bingiriya, then Hambantota and Trincomalee’ he revealed.

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