BOI responds to Daily FT

Saturday, 19 February 2011 01:25 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

THE Board of Investment (BOI) Chairman Jayampathi Bandaranayake has sent a detailed response clarifying certain comments made in the Daily FT editorial titled ‘BOI restructuring’ published yesterday based on two news reports on BOI publicised in Wednesday’s paper. Here is the full text of BOI Chairman’s statement:

Dear Editor,

I write to thank you for your well-reasoned and timely editorial on 18 February 2011 regarding the BOI restructuring. I have to say that I agree with all the key recommendations made in the editorial – particularly the need for communication and continued progress on pending projects during the change process. These two elements – communication and fast-tracking pending projects – are at the heart of the BOI restructuring process.

There are however factual inaccuracies in the editorial that need to be corrected. The editorial states that "top decision makers had refused to discuss plans with [employees] in a transparent manner." Further the editorial asks, "Why haven’t the plans been told to the employees? Surely, the most practical solution would be to hold a meeting and explain in detail the measures planned and how it will affect them? ...Officials need to come out in the open about what changes they are making and the timeline..."

In fact, every one of these recommended steps has already been implemented over the last six months. To set the record straight:

In September 2010, a series of workshops were held with key business associations, clusters and corporate houses, representing a cross-section of global and local investors, to solicit their views on the reforms needed to accelerate investment in Sri Lanka.

In October 2010, three workshops were held with more than 200 managers from all BOI departments, covering all management levels above Executive Assistant; during these workshops, the team reviewed BOI’s current performance and brainstormed ideas for future structure, based on international best practices; a similar meeting was held with union representatives to get their views and input.

After incorporating this input, detailed recommendations for the new organisation structure were presented to BOI senior management in January 2011.

Thereafter, no less than 12 "town hall meetings" were held to present the recommendations to all BOI employees in the Colombo area. All employees from drivers and peons to directors and executive directors were invited to attend these meetings. At each meeting, the rationale for the changes, the new organisation design, and the proposed timeline for implementation was presented, together with an explicit statement of underlying principles, reassuring employees that there will be no lay-offs or location transfers in the context of this restructuring. Special meetings were also held with union representatives, to share the same information and get their feedback. In all cases, valuable suggestions and feedback from employees and unions was used to fine-tune the recommendations. The overall response from all departments was overwhelmingly enthusiastic.

A memo describing the proposed changes and reiterating that there would be no job-losses or transfers was also sent to all employees in early February.

Only after this extensive consultation process, earlier this week we launched the actual reallocation of staff, and simultaneously issued a press release to announce the changes to investors and external stakeholders – further communications will be issued to all external stakeholders as soon as the new teams are in place.

Your sources also charge that "90 employees have been deprived of their duties" and that "restructuring move has cancelled out three departments." This is also inaccurate – in fact, the three departments in question have been transformed into eight sector teams, plus two special units to handle high-profile projects and regional initiatives. Far from being deprived of their duties, the roles and responsibilities of the employees in these departments have been significantly increased. Training sessions have been held with each of these departments during the course of this week to ensure that the teams are ready to start working as soon as the office reconfiguration is complete next Monday.

Thanks to the improved accountability in the new organisation structure and this careful process of communication and training, I am confident that the process for approving pending projects will accelerate significantly in the next few weeks – as will become evident from a number of announcements in the near future.

So I thank you again for your editorial (a few factual inaccuracies notwithstanding) and urge your continued support for the BOI as we implement these important changes.


Yours sincerely,

Jayampathi Bandaranayake

Chairman/Director General

Board of Investment of Sri Lanka.