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Monday, August 24, 2009

Sri Lanka opens doors to foreign investors

SRI Lanka is calling on foreign investments to pump prime its economy which had been ripped by over 30 years of civil war.

State Corp (Pvt) Ltd (SCorp) managing director and chief executive officer Keerthi Sri Weerasinghe said there are over US$70 billion (RM246 billion) worth of jobs available in construction, infrastructure and tourism.

Keerthi, who is chairman of the Coconut Development Authority under the Ministry of Plantation Industries said there are also contracts to be undertaken in mineral mining and housing.

"Because of the war, we could not undertake a lot of developments. Many buildings, roads and bridges were ruined during that time. We are now opening doors for investors to come in and develop the country for us," Keerthi told Business Times in an interview in Kuala Lumpur recently.

The present government has introduced a 10-year economic development policy the "Mahinda Chintana" where the focus is to steer investments to vital sectors such as agriculture and infrastructure development to pump up the economy.

Bilateral investment agreements, supported by a constitutional guarantee, provide strong protection to investors in Sri Lanka. Such an agreement exist between Sri Lanka and Malaysia.

Keerthi said a few Malaysian firms have made successful foray into the country and the situation was viable for new players to come in now.

Malaysia remains the largest investor in the country, mainly in telecommunications, infrastructure and property development.

Companies such as Dialog Telekom plc, a unit of TM International Bhd, MTD Construction Sdn Bhd and HeiTech Padu Bhd had ventured into Sri Lanka despite the war.

"We are an open economy and the government is interested to invite investors in oil and gas (O&G) and agriculture. We have identified six sites in north-west and south of Sri Lanka for O&G activities. We are also looking to revive a cement factory which had been shut down during the war and are calling for interested parties to bid," Keerthi said.

Keerthi said the Indian and Chinese governments, and the International Monetary Fund would lend their support financially while building materials were readily available for use.

By Business Times (by Sharen Kaur)

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