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Prez: Cumbersome investment laws to be revised to make country attractive to investors

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Laws introduced under the Greater Colombo Economic Commission (GCEC) would be revised to replace the existing laws to encourage foreign investment, President Ranil Wickremesinghe said on Thursday at the Mireka Tower Opening Ceremony, at Havelock City.The President said that he had already appointed a committee to bring the Board of Investment (BOI), the Export Development Board (EDB) and the Sri Lanka Export Credit Insurance Corporation (SLECIC) together and establish one investment promotion agency to encourage foreign investment.Sri Lanka needed to be made an investor-friendly country to attract investments, to get out of the vicious cycle of foreign borrowing.

“We must become an export-oriented economy, and we have to keep increasing our foreign investments. Now, if we are to keep attracting foreign investments, we must have an outward-looking economy. So, now as the economic stabilization is taking place, and the discussions are on among Japan, China and India, about the main creditors, on how to restructure the debt, we are also looking at how we can now revive growth,” he said.One of the biggest issues the country has is the number of government agencies that investors have to pass through.

“You go through BOI, Tourist Board, or some other ministry, then you go to Port City and then you come back to where you started. Then you do a second round. After about ten years, you can get the investment through. This just won’t work. When we came in 1977, we started the Greater Colombo Economic Commission (GCEC). There, the decisions were taken quickly and really in ten years, we got four zones going that is Katunayake, Biyagama, Koggala and Seethawaka. Then there was Pallekele which President Wijethunga wanted. Thereafter, what are the big investment zones that we have started?” he asked. Wickremesinghe said he appointed a committee which is now looking at streamlining investment authorization.

“What this committee is recommending and working on is that the BOI the EDB and Sri Lanka Export Credit Insurance Corporation (SLECIC) are brought together as one investment promotion agency. Secondly, the industrial estates and investment zones will be broken off. I think Katunayake and Biyagama are the best zones in South Asia. We are now looking at thousand-acre zones and initiating them from Bingiriya, then Hambantota and Trincomalee. A separate corporation will handle these,” he said.The President said that a number of professionals are leaving the country. It is impossible for the government to stop that.

“We must train more people. We are modernizing the education system. So that’s what we are working on while we are looking at stabilization measures which we are working on with the IMF. Another area of interest is going to be modernized agriculture. There’s so much land available. I thought I’d share with you what we are now working on because by the end of the year will be able to announce many of the measures that will be implemented by early next year to get the legislation enacted,” he said.



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Embassy officer arrested at BIA remanded

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The Embassy official who was attached to the Sri Lanka Embassy in Oman who is accused of being involved in a human trafficking racket was arrested by officers of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and remanded till the 13th of December when he was produced before the Colombo Chief Magistrate

The official was arrested on his arrival at the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) this morning (29 November).

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Easter Sunday terror attack suspect hacked to death

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By Norman Palihawadane

A 38-year-old Easter Sunday terror attack suspect was hacked to death yesterday morning (28) in Mattakkuliya.

The victim, Mohamed Badurdeen Mohamed Harnas, was a resident of Safiya Avenue, Mattakkuliya, police said.

A suspect in the Easter Sunday terror attacks, he had been released on bail.

The suspect was rushed to the National Hospital, Colombo, after three individuals, who arrived in a car around 10. 00 am, attacked him.

Two persons attacked the man while the other was keeping the car engine running, according to eyewitnesses. The attackers thereafter fled in the same car.

Harnas was pronounced dead on admission to hospital.

Further investigations in this regard are currently underway.

The victims family members said that Harnas had been taken into custody, following the 2019 Easter Sunday attacks, but later released as there was no evidence of his involvement in terrorist activities.

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Rail service between Mahawa and Jaffna to be suspended for five months

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Transport Minister Bandula Gunawardena told Parliament yesterday that the railway services between Mahawa and Jaffna will be suspended for a period of five months in 2023.

The Minister said that operations will be suspended from January 15, 2023.

The Minister said it was to repair work on the railway line.

He said so in response to a question raised by Vanni District MP Selvam Adaikalanathan.

“We are focusing our attention on the request made by you. We have to halt railway operations between Mahawa and Jaffna for five months from January 2023. Train services have been continuously operating to Jaffna, but now we have faced a situation as we have not been able to carry out any repair work thus far,” the Minister said.

Assuring that this issue can be rectified in five months, Minister Gunawardane said that, thereafter, a good railway service can be provided for this route.

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