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Economic Commission to create competitive, export-led digital economy: BOI Chief

By: Staff Writer

May 23, Colombo (LNW): Board of Investment (BOI) Chairman Dinesh Weerakkody says that the establishment of a new Economic Commission in Sri Lanka is aimed at strengthening the investment climate and to enhance national competitiveness.

“The Economic commission hopes to create a genuine one stop shop or single window and provides clarity on the key roles of institutions in the investment and export facilitation space and provide the required structure to take fast and effective decisions.

The final goal will be to improve the ease of doing business,” Weerakkody said adding that the National Policy on Economic Transformation is important yowards this end.

The policy will set several key economic targets that include, that GDP must reach 5% per annum by 2027 and increase 5% from then on; the total level of unemployment in the country to be below 5% by 2025.

It will ensure that by 2030 female participation in the labour force must not be below 40%; hold the current account deficit at less than 1% in the event the country experiences such a deficit; and to see a growth in Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) to reflect 5% of the total GDP by 2030 as well as a shift in FDIs towards the export of goods and services by 2040.

Weerakkody pointed out that to achieve this goal, Sri Lanka needs serious transformation, starting from the regulatory environment, taxation policies, market size and access, strong legal systems.

It enforce contracts and protect intellectual property, Legal and Judicial Framework, skilled and educated workforce, physical infrastructure, roads, ports, effective utilities, strengthen regional value chains, environmental sustainability and improve governance overall in decision making, he said.

On the challenges, Weerakkody noted would be the HR challenges, internal capabilities and structural challenges relating to organisational design and management transformation.

These must be addressed to ensure the effectiveness of the proposed new organisations. The Act, he said, proposes the creation of five new entities: the Sri Lanka Economic Commission, Sri Lanka Investment Zones, and Office for International Trade, National Productivity Commission, and the Sri Lanka Institute of Economics and International Trade.

Talking of trends, Weerakkody noted, FDI is increasingly favouring services over manufacturing, widening the gap between the two sectors and FDI in environmental technologies like solar and wind energy has emerged as the fastest-growing sector outside of services.

Weerakkody also noted Sri Lanka is strategically placed to benefit from a fast-changing global marketplace and trade routes. “We are between Europe and the Far East on the major East-West shipping lanes. 

We have good access to lucrative Middle Eastern markets and rising African markets, while the big growth engine that is India lies just 20 miles away,” he added.

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