Burt urges more economic transparency for investment

Saturday, 2 February 2013 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Visiting Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister for South Asia Alistair Burt has called on the Sri Lankan Government to improve economic transparency to attract investment, a statement from the British Embassy said yesterday.

Burt, who is on a two day visit to the island to assess its post-war development, at a reception hosted by British Ambassador John Rankin and attended by the local business community, had told that all countries, including Sri Lanka, should concentrate on improving their governance to remain competitive in a challenging global environment.     

Over 100 UK companies are active in Sri Lanka – particularly in the areas of education, construction and garment manufacturing – and there was a 12 per cent increase in Sri Lankan exports to the UK in 2012.

“Today, more than ever, we need our companies to compete in what the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, has called the global race, where competition is becoming ever fiercer between emerging and emerged economies,” the statement quoted him as saying.

He emphasised that it is up to all countries to ensure their economies are transparent, fair and straightforward for potential investors. 

Burt’s comments come after the US announced that it would table a second resolution on Sri Lanka at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) sessions beginning later this month. The US has reiterated that the Government’s reconciliation efforts are not being implemented fast enough and governance issues would impact Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).  

However, Sri Lanka’s Government has consistently denied this claim. Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella told media on Thursday that the Cabinet is confident of attracting investment and insisted human rights was not the reason for the country’s lacklustre FDI figures.

According to initial projections by the Central Bank, Sri Lanka managed to attract only half of the expected US$ 2 billion earmarked for 2012. In the Cabinet reshuffle, President Rajapaksa established a separate Investment Promotion Ministry headed by Minister Lakshman Yapa Abayawardana to address FDI shortfalls.  

Opposition parties have consistently criticised the Government for failing to improve transparency and good governance to attract investment.