The Governor of the Central Bank yesterday said that Sri Lanka was no longer a country which seeks foreign aid but would only need trade with the international community.
“We no longer seek aid. What we want is other countries to trade with us,” said Ajith Nivard Cabraal, addressing an Israeli business delegation now in town on a week-long trade mission.
However, economists have pointed out that Sri Lanka is no longer a ‘donor darling’ of the lenders and would have no choice but to resort to high-cost capital markets for sourcing external funding.
Changing debt dynamics i n Sri Lanka have already been seen with the rising share of commercial borrowings compared with aid and concessional loans, which traditionally occupied the dominant share.
The governor further said that the President had given them a challenging target to raise the country’s Doing Business Ranking to 30th place by the end of 2016.
“Now our Doing Business Ranking stands at 81 (out of 185 countries). We want that to be improved to 70th place by the next assessment. The President wants that to be further improved to the 30th place by 2016,” Cabraal added.
He further called on the visiting delegation to make the maximum use of the opportunities in Sri Lanka given the conducive macroeconomic climate prevailing in the country.
“Opportunities in Sri Lanka should not be missed not only in the trade and business spheres but also in the sphere of tourism. I invite you to find good, lucrative partnerships with Sri Lankan counterparts benefiting both the countries,” Cabraal invited the 30-member business delegation.
Meanwhile, Bank of Ceylon Chairman Razik Zarook invited the Israeli high-tech companies to set up ventures in Sri Lanka in a bid to limit the brain drain since Sri Lanka annually loses a large number of highly skilled IT graduates as they are absorbed by countries such as the United States.
Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to Israel, Sarath Wijesinghe called on the Sri Lankan counterparts to learn from the expertise in agriculture, dairy, technology and particularly the water management.
“Unlike Sri Lanka, water in Israel is a scarce resource. But their excellent water management has enabled them to have a highly developed agricultural and dairy sector,” Wijesinghe said. Wijesinghe further said that Irrigation and Water Resources Management Minister would meet his Israeli counterpart in the coming months in order to learn on water management.