The Board of Investment (BOI) yesterday announced a new strategy to raise FDI in Sri Lanka to the desired level of 4 to 5 % of GDP over the next 3 year period.
The FDI this year is expected to reach the highest ever achieved by the country and will be well in excess of US$ 1 billion.
The changes aim to focus the BOI’s resources on priority investment projects most critical to national development, thereby accelerating job creation and income growth in all areas of the country. The expected outcomes are the speedy raising of income levels of all people of the country in a move to achieve the vision of being the “The emerging Wonder of Asia”.
“With the end of the war and the dawn of a new era of opportunity for Sri Lanka, we in the BOI need to take a lead in defining investment priorities and marketing these to investors, rather than just responding to proposals only,” BOI Chairman Jayampathi Bandaranayake said. “Once companies are ready to invest, the BOI needs to do everything possible to get their business started, by intervening directly on behalf of the investors with the relevant line agencies,” he added. The core of the new organisation structure will be Sector-focused Investor Relations Teams. These teams (together with special units to handle high-profile projects and regional initiatives) will cover all vital sectors of agriculture, manufacturing, services including tourism and infrastructure.
Each team will work with the ministries and agencies in their sector to develop a joint sector strategy, identify investment priorities and promote these to target companies. The same teams will act as relationship managers for all investors in their sector, from project evaluation to implementation to post-investment aftercare.
In addition, an integrated Investor Solution Centre will be established to guide investors through the business start-up process. The Centre will assist investors with all aspects, including access to land, environmental and construction approvals, as well as legal, financial and labour requirements, bringing together disparate departments to better serve investor needs.
The existing industrial Zones of the BOI will transform as model zones with excellent infrastructure and modern and enlightened practices of labour relations, with concerns for the environment and sustainability addressed.
The zone management will be given more independence and accountability to continuously improve the services that they provide to investors. The zone management will also be responsible for developing strategy for future development of additional zones around Sri Lanka.
To enable better team work and investor interface, the BOI headquarters at the World Trade Centre will also be reorganised. All offices will be relocated to a single elevator bank, with dedicated floors for investors to meet with the Sector Teams and Investor Solution Centre. This will free up additional floor space which will be put to productive use.
As a result, the BOI is also expecting to make significant savings on overhead costs well in excess of Rs. 100 million annually. These savings of public funds will be redirected into more productive uses, such as improvements in infrastructure, skills development facilitation of youth to meet the emerging job opportunities, more targeted investor marketing, sector research, and human resource development of the staff of the BOI. There will be no compulsory job-cuts as a result of the reorganisation.
The proposed changes have been developed and communicated through an extensive consultation and awareness building process with all levels, departments and unions of the BOI. “We are encouraged by the enthusiastic support that we have received from the vast majority of staff in the BOI and the unions to have a real opportunity of serving the country and to bring about the desired change for a better Sri Lanka” said the Chairman. This communication process will continue as each phase is implemented over the next three months.