Though a multi-ministerial committee has been set up in the one-stop-shop Board of Investment (BoI) to evaluate the proposed projects and investments, reliable sources within several projects told Mirror Business that investors still are finding it difficult to obtain required approvals.
While the delay may be due to evaluating each project holistically, which is commendable, the government should be more responsive towards the private sector, which was one of the promises of the new government.
Under the previous regime investors had to individually lobby every line minister and departmental head for approval, a process which Jetwing Group Chairman Hiran Cooray recently disapproved in the presence of Investment Promotions and Highways Deputy Minister Eran Wickremaratne, under whom the BoI falls.
In several post-interim budget discussions, both Wickremaratne and Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake had held that the previous regime had made the one-stop-shop BoI irrelevant and promised to set up a committee comprised of all departments relevant to investment to approve projects within three months.
Wickremaratne told Mirror Business in February that the committee had been set up and projects were being evaluated. He further added that US $ 6-7 billion in projects were in the pipeline and expressed disappointment over Sri Lanka only attracting an average US $ 1 billion in foreign investments annually over the past several years. Foreign investors have been quoting a lack of friendly policies and policy consistency towards the drip of inbound investments. (CW)