Original article : http://www.island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=180939
Sri Lanka – the new growth story playing out in the Indian Ocean, would forge ahead in partnership with countries such as Japan, India, China and Singapore, says Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.
Delivering the key note address at “Invest Sri Lanka” Forum in Singapore on Friday, the Prime Minister said that ongoing global economic power re-balancing had resulted in the Indian Ocean becoming a center of economic gravity, which in turn had enabled Sri Lanka to leverage on its strategic location, to become the hub of the Indian Ocean, by building on good relations with the key economies.
The PM observed that Sri Lanka had accepted the concept of a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific Policy and Maritime Order” proposed by Japan, played a crucial role in India’s “Neighbourhood First Policy” and was also an important linchpin in China’s “Belt and Road Initiative” particularly the maritime route connecting East Asia with Africa.
“As an island we are increasingly becoming a vital player in the region, enabling us to punch above our weight – a lesson we have learnt from Singapore,” Wickremesinghe noted adding that it also meant Sri Lanka, for Singaporeans had become a very advantageous hub to do business, live and invest in as a springboard to South Asia and the Indian Ocean region and as a link between South East Asia and Asia.
Addressing a full house that included Singapore’s Minister of Trade and Economic Cooperation I.Iswaran, Singapores High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, Chandra Das and a large number of international fund managers and investors, the Prime Minister revealed that several policy measures aimed at incentivizing direct private investment from foreign and local sources, would be implemented in the coming months.
The PM said that enabling legislation was in the preparatory stage and the gallery would be launched by mid, this year, exhibiting the government’s commitment to ease of doing business.
The time taken to register a new business would be reduced from six days to just one.Period of registering property halved from 51 to 26 days and procedures reduced from nine steps to two. An Electronic Single Window would also be introduced, linking dozens of state agencies dealing with international trade through a few clicks, Wickremesinghe explained.
Prime Minister Wickremesinghe said that through the new Colombo International Financial City, the present Port City project, a unique business climate that was globally competitive had been created. “This new city will function as a special economic zone and adopt a conducive and transparent regulatory system.It will also provide an environment for foreign companies, like no other in the region.”
These efforts, the Premier said were being complemented with comprehensive trade policy reforms that had seen the scrapping of protectionist para-tariffs on over 1,200 items, with the rest slated for removal this year and in 2019.
The Prime Minister expressed confidence in Sri Lanka’s ability to leverage on its strategic location and expand market access, with a diverse set of countries, such as the United States of America , European Union, India, China, Singapore, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia and Thailand.
Among those who addressed ” Invest Sri Lanka” were Singapore’s Trade and Industry Minister S.Iswaran , Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner in Singapore Nimal Weeraratne , Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) Chairman Ray Abeywardena , Central Bank Governor Indrajit Coomaraswamy, Singapore Sri Lanka Business Association President Angelo Perera, CEO of CSE Rajeeva Bandaranaike, Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) Director General Vajira Wijegunawardane, Aberdeen Standard Investments Managing Director Hugh Young, CHEC Port City Colombo Chief Sales and Marketing Officer Liang Thow Ming, Kuok-Singapore Chairman Kuok Khoon Ean, DBS Group Research Managing Director and Chief Economist Taimur Baig and Softlogic Holdings Head of Investments Niloo Jayatilake.
The investor forum organized by the CSE, in collaboration with SEC, Singapore-Lanka Business Commission and Singapore Business Federation, was a sequel to the modern and comprehensive Free Trade Agreement that was signed between Sri Lanka and Singapore in record time recently, with the Prime Ministers of both countries playing a leading role.
The promotional partners were the Sri Lanka High Commission in Singapore, the Singapore Business Federation, Singapore International Chamber of Commerce, Singapore Chamber of Commerce and Industry and International Chamber of Commerce Sri Lanka.
The Forum’s platinum sponsors were DBS Bank Singapore, Capital Alliance Ltd., Wilmar Holdings and B.P. de Silva Holdings, Singapore, while the gold sponsors were CT CLSA, Acuity, Asia Securities and Ceylon Guardian. The bronze sponsor was Swellings Group.