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Central Bank Governor Nivard Cabraal seeks direct investment from UK

Bank Governor Nivard Cabraal has sought foreign portfolio and direct investments from the UK, saying Sri Lanka is on a new reset path taking advantage of new horizons post-COVID.

He extended this invitation to fund managers and investors who attended the Sri Lanka Invest Forum in London organised by the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in partnership with Sri Lanka High Commission in the UK on Monday 28 at the London Stock Exchange.

Acknowledging that Sri Lanka indeed faces many challenges due to factors influenced by the COVID pandemic he said the situation heralds the time to reset the economy and move ahead with new impetus.

Though scheduled to be in person in London to deliver the keynote, Cabraal addressed the Forum live virtually from Colombo due to some urgent development.

He said that some of the current volatilities such as the rupee, pressure on the balance of payments, and high inflation are temporary and recent measures such as tightening of the monetary policy, greater flexibility in the exchange rate, and allowing cost-reflective pricing as well as an arrangement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) will ensure greater stability and make it more sustainable.

He said that the Central Bank views the high rates of the exchange rate as an “overshoot” and expects the rupee to stabilise shortly. Cabraal also said on-going measures will boost foreign inflows.

His invitation to foreign investors and confidence in a quicker stability and growth stems from the fact that “Fundamentals of Sri Lanka are strong” and initiatives such as “Port City, Hambantota Port, infrastructure development, pharmaceutical zone etc. offers awesome potential” for investment and growth opportunities.

Cabraal expressed confidence that Sri Lanka is primed for a new surge of investments.

Sri Lanka High Commissioner Saroja Sirisena highlighted the country’s resilience amidst the global and local shocks and appealed to investors existing and potential ones to have faith. She too invited investors to take advantage of the future of Sri Lanka which she described as “best located in Asia, the most peaceful region in the world”.

The Sri Lanka Invest Forum is the fourth in the UK with the last being in 2018 and the first in Europe post-COVID. Sirisena recalled that the 2018 event heralded the then largest FDI for Sri Lanka via the London Stock Exchange Group.In that context she expressed the hope that the latest forum will be a catalyst in further boosting Sri Lanka-UK ties.

UK Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Sri Lanka Lord Davies of Abersoch CBE was also a special guest at the event which saw around 40 London-based fund managers and investors in attendance.

SEC Chairman Viraj Dayaratne PC, CSE Chairman Dumith Fernando and LYNEAR Wealth Management Co-Founder and CIO Dr. Naveen Gunawardane also spoke highlighting Sri Lanka’s soundness and attractiveness for investments.

CBSL Director Economic Research Dr. Anil Perera made a presentation on ‘Macroeconomic Developments and Prospects of Sri Lanka’ via video conferencing whilst Deputy Governor N.W.G.R.D. Nanayakkara answered a host of questions from fund managers and investors.

The forum at London Stock Exchange yesterday was one of three engagements this week by Sri Lanka’s spirited capital market industry to woo more foreign portfolio and direct investments on the premise of better future prospects despite most challenging times at present for the country.

Rest of the week the Sri Lankan capital market delegation will also woo investments at separate engagements with the diaspora in the UK as well as Britain-based business organised by the Sri Lanka High Commission.

A large contingent from Sri Lanka’s capital markets as well listed companies is in London to attend the events as well whilst the latter will also take part in one-on-one meetings with fund managers and investors.

Among the stockbrokers in the delegation are SC Securities, Softlogic Stockbrokers Ltd., John Keells Stockbrokers Ltd., CT CLSA Securities, Bartleet Religare Securities, Lanka Securities, and Acuity Stockbrokers. The listed companies include Expolanka Holdings PLC, John Keells Holdings PLC, Softlogic Holdings PLC, Windforce PLC, National Development Bank PLC, and People’s Leasing and Finance PLC.

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