By Chandeepa Wettasinghe
The St. Anthony’s group took another step in the development of Sri Lanka’s information technology/business process management (IT/BPM) sector, commencing the expansion plans of its US $ 70 million Orion Towers.
“A million square feet in the next two years is our plan and we’re investing close to US $ 60-70 million in this mission. Subsequently, we will push on to offer three million square feet in this facility,” Orion Development (Pvt.) Ltd CEO Jeevan Gnanam said. He noted that the internal funds of the St. Anthony’s group would be utilized and the project will get a three-year tax holiday from the Board of Investment.
Currently, the Orion City situated off Baseline Road spans across a 16-acre property with 550,000 square feet of rented space. Thirty leading local and international companies including Virtusa, Pearsons, WNS and SriLankan Airlines have offices in the complex employing 6,000 employees.
Orion Towers will comprise of three towers with a maximum height of 110 metres and 22 stories.
Gnanam said that all amenities required by a world-class IT park would be available, including a boutique hotel, gymnasiums, restaurants, retail malls, one of Sri Lanka’s largest data centres and an IT-oriented library facilitated by The British Council.
“Even if we set up two million square feet, we will be helping the IT/BPM industry go forward,” Gnanam said.
According to him, the Sri Lankan IT/BPM industry reached a foreign inflow level of US $ 800 million in 2014 and is on target to achieve US $ 5 billion foreign exchange by 2022—a target set by former Treasury Secretary Dr. P.B. Jayasundera.
Gnanam expressed that Orion will begin wooing potential tenants from Japan, the UK, Australia and the Nordic regions after the lapse of one year.
“We’ll go market ourselves abroad. Sri Lanka’s (IT/BPM) costs are 20-30 percent cheaper than India. The larger companies from places like the US have already established themselves in India, so we’re looking at countries that have a lot of small and medium companies,” he said.
He claimed that if the US-based companies are to be attracted, government spending will be required.
“In the US we haven’t done much but we hope that the government helps. The past government allocated a Rs.200 million fund for IT/BPM promotions but none of that money was actually given. It was to go through the Information Communication Technology Agency,” he said.
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