The Board of Investment of Sri Lanka in collaboration with Ceylon Chamber of Commerce participated at a recent forum titled “Doing Business in Sri Lanka – Development Potential and Opportunities” held at the office of the Singapore Business Federation.

At the forum, Chairman of Board of Investment (BOI), Upul Jayasuriya briefed over 100 participants drawn from the Singapore business community on the many attractive advantages that Sri Lanka can offer to investors in Singapore.

In his address, the BOI chairman highlighted the business friendly policy of the current administration in Sri Lanka which had pioneered the country’s liberalized economy in the late 1970s. Sri Lanka had been inspired by the founder leader of Singapore, the late Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew.

Jayasuriya also stated that the Government of Sri Lanka at the time, which is the same one which is currently in power, had opened the country’s first Export Processing Zone at Katunayake. A second Zone at Biyagama had been opened by Ranil Wickremesinghe, who is the current Prime Minister of Sri Lanka. The BOI Chairman added that Sri Lanka was the first South Asian country to liberalize its economy, well ahead of any other of her neighbours. Sri Lanka’s land prices are also some of the lowest in Asia, well below other South Asian neighbours.

Another strength of the country was a strong democratic tradition that goes back 68 years and a political culture where Government changes have taken place through the ballot and not the bullet.

He also stated that a key factor to invest in Sri Lanka was good governance adding that many Singaporean investors such as Prima had been longstanding investors in the Country.

Another Singaporean success story is the World Trade Centre, currently the tallest building in the country and landmark of Colombo.  Jayasuriya added that the time was right for investors from Singapore to take the lead by starting investment projects in Sri Lanka.

Dilip S Samarasinghe, Director (Media & Publicity) of BOI made a presentation on the advantages of investing in Sri Lanka and the current status of Singaporean investments in the country. The presentation also covered the areas that Sri Lanka was keen on promoting in Singapore.

Accompanying the BOI Chairman were  Dilip S Samarasinghe, Director (Media & Publicity), Keizo Tsuchiya JICA Advisor to the BOI and Dhammika Basnayake, Assistant Director (Promotion).

The other speakers included Alan Tan Director, ASEAN & South Asia of the Singapore Business Federation who covered business relations between Sri Lanka and Singapore. He stated that there were over 100 Singaporean companies based in Sri Lanka involved in a wide range of activities including construction, education and food processing. Mr. Tan added that Singapore businessmen have continued to operate in Sri Lanka in spite the global economic downturn.