SL Aims to Double Economy by 2030
By Mario Andree
Highlighting that Sri Lanka was offering exciting opportunities for investors, selfproclaimed one-stop-shop, Board of Investment Chairman Sanjaya Mohottala said that the country was looking to double its economy within this decade.
According to him, if investors capitalise on the investment opportunities available in the country and the Government’s focus on inclusive growth, Sri Lanka can achieve a sustained GDP growth north of 7% and export and services income earnings of more than US$ 30 billion by 2025. He pointed out that the Government has identified six key thrust sectors and policy orchestrations were under way to assist investors in this regard.
He further said that the Government of Sri Lanka was creating an investor friendly business environment for businessmen to take advantage of. “As a Government, which is pro-development, we have taken many steps to improve the country’s competitiveness and future readiness,” he said. “Many initiatives are underway to ensure current cost competitiveness is maintained, significantly improving the ease of doing business,” he said. Building on the strong talent pool to facilitate and shift into a knowledge-based economy, the Government has set in motion education reforms to align to future talent needs and also measures to increase the quality graduate output by three times, he said.
He assured that Sri Lanka would continue to maintain its liberal investment policies, allowing 100% foreign ownership and to repatriate earnings without any hidden taxes or constraints. Sri Lanka is home to over 1,200 foreign companies as of today, who have been in Sri Lanka for many years. Nearly 50% of capital formation that took place in 2020 by BOI companies came from existing investors expanding their footprint to take advantage of global opportunities.
According to him, this was the conviction they have on Sri Lanka’s opportunities and its competitiveness as a sourcing destination. He highlighted Pharmaceutical, Apparel manufacturing, Information Communication Technology, Tourism as few sectors the Government had identified for development and would support investors who are keen to invest.
The Government has taken measures to build a strong local pharma industry to cater to the country’s needs, and to build a new export vertical taking advantage of the skilled talent pools, existing pharma operations as well as the geopolitical shifts we have all seen and experienced, he said. A state of the art 400-acre pharma zone is being built adjoining the Hambantota Port and the international airport, with easy access to both sea and air logistics, he said.
To support this strategic sector, the Government is offering generous tax breaks up to 10 years and customised incentive packages will be offered for larger investors, he said. Highlighting that Sri Lanka had a strong apparel sector in place, he said that opportunity exists for investors to set up factories to localise up to US$ one billion worth of raw material imports to increase supply chain resilience and supply chain agility and cater to growing demands of manufacturers and buyers.
According to him Sri Lanka is the fastest growing ICT hub in South Asia and the country is aiming for US$3 billion exports, doubling what we do today by 2025.
Sri Lanka looks to double ICT related exports by investing in developing world class talent pools, enabling infrastructure such as high-speed internet even down to the rural communities, developing five focused technology IT parks and introducing new legislation to orchestrate and catalyse the startup eco system, he said. Highlighting that Sri Lanka was aiming to welcome more than 4 million tourists by 2025, despite the setback caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Mohottala also invited investors to seize opportunities in the hospitality sector.