By Shezna Shums
The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce will host the Sri Lanka 2011 Economic Summit, which will consist of two days of sessions covering a range of topics that are of importance to today’s business environment and business growth.
The Chairman of the Economic summit steering committee Prof. Lakshman Watawala, and the Chairman of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce Dr. Anura Ekanayake stated that as with previous summits they see that several recommendations and suggestions have in fact been adopted into the national policy and even the budget.
As the summit session are being held in July, the outcomes of these discussions will be documented and recorded and when the Chamber of Commerce provides their recommendations for the budget, these outcomes will be included as well.
Dr. Ekanayake stated that the previous 12 economic sessions held by the Chamber of Commerce were also a success.
The opening ceremony of the Sri Lankan Economic Summit 2011 will be the welcome address by Prof. Lakshman R.Watawala Chairman Economic Summit Steering Committee.
The address will be by Dr. Anura Ekanayake Chairman, The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce. The chief guest is Minister Basil Rajapaksa Minister of Economic Development, and the Keynote address will be by Dr. P. B. Jayasundera, Secretary, Ministry of Finance and Planning, and Secretary to the Treasury.
The Government’s vision is to make Sri Lanka a key economic centre in Asia. The Government is targeting to raise economic growth to 9.5 percent in the medium term and to double digit levels thereafter which require investments to be raised to at least 35 percent of GDP in the medium term from the current level of 28 percent.
The conclusion of the war in Sri Lanka has spurred investor interest from local and foreign investors. Local businesses have initiated expansion plans and there has been a notable rise in arrival of foreign nationals for business purposes.
In 2010 foreign arrivals for business related activities increased by 13.7 percent of total foreign arrivals, from 8.6 percent in 2009.
Meanwhile many steps have been taken towards creating a conducive environment to promote trade and investment.
The government has continued its efforts to develop infrastructure facilities to improve connectivity within the country and with foreign markets. Reforms to the cumbersome taxation structure were also introduced with the national budget for 2011 a Chamber of Commerce release stated.
Despite these progressive steps there are yet other areas that need to be addressed to convert the investor interest into solid investments as the pick up in investments has been slower than anticipated.
The Sri Lanka Economic Summit 2011 organised by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce for the 12 consecutive years will focus on ‘Driving Growth through Fast Track Implementation’. Ministers, Key Government officials and Private Sector leaders will be invited to speak at the Summit.
The keynote speaker will elaborate the Government’s vision and strategy to develop the economy and the investment policy framework during the inaugural session.
The technical sessions will focus on the sectors that demonstrate greater prospects for growth and on progress in implementation of reforms initiated by the Government.
The administrative system with respect to many spheres in Sri Lanka has not been restructured to meet contemporary requirements, resulting in higher cost and time of transactions.
In the current context of high international competition, transparent and simplified systems and procedures are crucial to draw investments to a country and to retain investors.
The Ministry of Economic Development together with the Central Bank of Sri Lanka have already taken an initiative to improve Sri Lanka’s ranking in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index which covers vital areas connected to business such as starting a business, obtaining construction permits, paying Taxes and so on.
The first technical session of the Summit will be on the Government’s strategy to improve Sri Lanka’s ranking in the Ease of Doing Business Index involving simplification of procedures and modernisation of systems.
The Financial Sector is a cross cutting sector that has a strong bearing on the development of other sectors.
Application of an appropriate monetary policy that brings in macro-economic stability whilst promoting investment and growth in productive sectors, is fundamental for accelerating growth.
It is of greater significance to Sri Lanka when the country has stepped on a new growth plan. The session will deliberate an appropriate monetary policy for Sri Lanka and reforms required to the financial sector to facilitate the country to achieve its economic targets.
The sessions that follow will focus on key growth sectors of the economy; Tourism, Information and Communication, Technology/Business Process Outsourcing and Higher Education and Skills Development.
Parallel sessions will also be held on Logistics, Agriculture, Healthcare and Construction. All these sectors have potential to expand and draw investments from the private sector.
The Summit will conclude with a session with the Parliamentarians from the Government and the opposition on ‘Breaking the Bottlenecks in Development.’