Qatar Govt., private sector bullish on Sri Lankan opportunities

Wednesday, 14 December 2011 01:17 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Range of sectors discussed for investments during meeting between Qatar Premier and Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa

Range of sectors discussed for investments during meeting between Qatar Premier and Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa (strap)

Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim Bin Jabr Al-Thani, Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs in Qatar   together with Yousf Kamal, Finance Minister of Qatar, the Ambassador of Qatar in Sri Lanka  and an Investment  delegation held bilateral discussion with  Basil Rajapaksa, Minister of Economic Development at the Colombo Hilton  yesterday.

Minister warmly welcomed the delegation re-iterating the strong bonds of friendship that united the two countries and highlighted the new developments emerging in Sri Lanka with the eradication of terrorism and noted that with the unprecedented degree of political stability that is presently prevailing in Sri Lanka, President Rajapaksa has emphasized the need for accelerated economic development and such benefits of economic development to be distributed equitably.

Qatar Prime Minister said that Qatar is very keen to develop and strengthen the economic ties with Sri Lanka capitalizing on the already existing strong political relation. The Prime Minister while emphasizing the Keen Interest in establishing a closer economic ties with Sri Lanka underlines the importance of engage in large scale economic cooperation with Sri Lanka to strengthen the strong and long standing relationship exist between the two countries. During the discussions Prime Minister stated that large number of Sri Lankan professionals in the field of Education, Nursing Accountancy and Engineering are presently working in Qatar in a contented environment.

During the meeting Minister Basil Rajapaksa also stated that with the dawn of peace there are three things the country needs most - investment, trade and tourism. He further said that the country that Marco Polo once described as the best Island of its size is once again open for Business and for leisure and Invited more and more Qatar Tourist to Sri Lanka and Qatar enterprises to Invest in Sri Lanka. Describing Sri Lanka’s potential in Tourism and Investment he further said that Sri Lanka is in the ideal location in the world map and the best destination and also at the best time of its post independence era for Investment.

Minister Rajapaksa called on the Qatari Government to particularly look into investing in the tourism sector in Sri Lanka which is experiencing an unprecedented boom. He also stated that there is a concerted drive to increase tourism infrastructure in the country that includes five star hotels, resorts and facilities for leisure activities specifically targeting Middle Eastern tourists. In this regard Minister Rajapaksa said Qatari investors could favourably look at Sri Lanka as a highly completive stable country for their investments. Prime Minister Hamad Bin Jassim Al-Thani informed that the Qatari Government and the private sector would be much interested in being a part of Sri Lanka’s rapid economic progress.  

Elaborating further on the emphasis given to develop Sri Lanka as a key Tourist Destination, Minster brought to the attention of the delegation the areas for cooperation and investment in the field of Tourism by highlighting Tourism zones that are available for Investment.  Minister invited Qatar Entrepreneurs to look positively in investing in Tourism Sector. Minister also pointed out that Sri Lanka Tourism has identified Gulf Region as a key Market to attract tourists to Sri Lanka and the Qatar’s presence in Sri Lanka would positively contribute to bring increasing number of Middle East Tourists to Sri Lanka. The highlight of the meeting was that the Qatar Delegation led by the Hon Prime Minister was well focused on the areas that Qatar wants to engaged in Sri Lanka and shown a solid interest in investing in the Kalpitiya Tourism Zone, Colombo , Negombo and Hambantota for Tourism Related Projects . In the Colombo  city Qatar delegation shown a keen interest in undertaking a mega infrastructure project encompassing a shopping mall ,residential complex ,hotel ,car park .In Kalpitiya Tourism Zone having visited the Zone on the previous day Delegation expressed their interest in having investment in the zone.  

Apart from Tourism Prime Minster also highlighted the Qatari intention in investing in the Colombo Stock Exchange and supporting the upgrading of the Colombo Stock Exchange where Sri Lanka side agreed to study the proposal made by the Hon Minster of Finance in Qatar .During the discussions Qatar also stated its willingness to invest in a Toll Road that would  Link Katunayake with Kalpitiya. Inland Fisheries and Cut Flower sectors were also highlighted for potential investment by the Qatari delegation. Minster Stated that with the dawn of peace the Air Connectivity between Sri Lanka and the rest of the world has increased enormously with 18 new Airlines arriving in Sri Lanka and this has resulted in increasing the Air Cargo capacity for Import Export Trade especially for fresh goods such as Fish and Agricultural products and urged Qatar to make use of this opportunity to further strengthen the trade ties between the two countries. Stating the Importance of Air connectivity between the two countries Qatar Prime Minister stated the importance of increasing the Flight Frequencies between Colombo and Doha where Sri Lankan side positively agreed that would benefits both Tourist and the Sri Lankan Immigrant work force. Qatar PM  further stated that although  the visit to the island was short this visit has helped to build a solid understanding on the potential of Sri Lanka and the visit will act as a precursor to the early next year’s visit to Sri Lanka by  His Highness the Emir of Qatar that will pave the way for  a beginning of a new era of economic cooperation between Sri Lanka and Qatar. Minister Basil Rajapaksa Hailing the meeting as a promising start to this effect agreed to take positive steps in bringing in Sri Lanka Qatar Economic Cooperation to new heights .

Minister recalling the friendly and multifaceted relations existing between the two countries wished the visiting delegation a pleasant and productive stay in Sri Lanka. Dr Sarath Amunugama Susil Premjayanth , Dr P B Jayasundera, Secretary Ministry of Finance and Planning and  Ministry of Economic Development officials of the Ministry of Economic Development also participated at the discussions .

pic by Thusitha Chandrakumara