The Sri Lanka High Commission in Maldives and the Sri Lanka Export Development Board (EDB) jointly organized a virtual meeting for Sri Lankan construction services companies to interact with the SME & Entrepreneur Federation of Maldives (SEFM), Maldives Contractors’ Association and to learn about the market entry possibilities, procedures and regulations applicable to foreign investments, including joint ventures in civil construction, MEP and Engineering services.
Abdul Latheef, President SME & Entrepreneur Federation of Maldives (SEFM) provided a comprehensive overview of the procedures in place, as well as the investment and sub contract prospects in civil construction industry in Maldives. He highlighted that there are infrastructure projects which are underway under the Exim bank financing initiatives and activities provided by other countries (India/China) and sub contract opportunities that have been created which could be availed by Sri Lankan companies.
Mohamed Mamdooh, Vice President of Maldives Contractors’ Association stated that even though only few key companies are involved in businesses currently, there are lots of opportunities for Sri Lanka. The Association is open for discussion with Sri Lankan companies for possible joint ventures and would like to assist them.
Engineer Ranjith Gunatillake, Managing Director of Sanken Overseas said that Maldives is a reliable country for Sri Lankans to invest and get reciprocal benefits. However, Sri Lankan companies are facing difficulties in investing in Maldives due to the restrictions imposed by Sri Lankan government.
Maldivian Authorities have opened their hands for Sri Lankan companies to do business with them and Eng.Gunathillake paid his gratitude for the Maldivian Statutory Authorities for their extended assistance. He further suggested the Sri Lankan statutory authorities to consider taxes and royalties to be reciprocal withinSAARC countries for Sri Lankan companies to be benefited.
Further, the Central Bank of Sri Lanka to encourage Sri Lankan companies to invest in Maldives and other key countries by removing restrictions imposed in terms of Bank Guarantees and performance Guarantees.
Priyantha Perera, Group CEO of Sierra Constructions stated that during the recent past large number of Sri Lankan contractors were involved in projects in Maldives i.e water supply, sewerage, communication and road development. With the current situation the EDB is pushing hard for local companies to identify and establish business overseas. Sri Lankan companies are engaged in the international markets particularly in SAARC region and the African region.
It is believed that Sri Lankan companies, together with the Maldivian contractors could play in a competitive environment and can make a big impact in the industry among the major players like in India and China as sub contactors. Perera pointed out that Sri Lankan small scale contractors could move to Maldives since there are lots of opportunities for SMEs. i.e plumbing and electrical sector than the major contractors.
A.M.J. Sadiq, the High Commissioner of Sri Lanka to Maldives highlighted the fact that Sri Lanka is highly impacted on cost of air fare, trade and services due to lack of double taxation avoidance agreement. He pointed out that it is a timely requirement that policy makers of Sri Lanka to facilitate the establishment ofa double taxation avoidance agreementfor preferential trading countries. Sri Lanka also does not have an‘Investment Promotion Protection Agreement’ which is important for Sri Lanka to receive reciprocal benefits in high end markets like in Maldives and other SAARC countries.
This virtual meeting was held on 20th October and over 80 construction services companies from both Maldives and Sri Lanka participated including the Major Constructors Association of Sri Lanka. It was a very fruitful meeting and looking forward for a win-win situation for both countries.