Feb 01, Colombo: Sri Lanka this year targeting over US$ 2 billion in foreign investments to the country will remove all obstacles in achieving the goal, the newly appointed Minister of Investment Promotion Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena said.
Addressing the media after assuming duties as the new minister Thursday (31), Abeywardena said the government will focus on four sectors, namely tourism, education, industrial development and the service sectors, this year to attract foreign investors.
The Minister spoke of investments in the education sector which has not been tapped so far.
Noting that around 12,000 students go out abroad annually for education draining over US$ 400 million from the country, the Minister said measures will be taken to attract foreign investment in the sector to establish foreign universities and educational institutes in the country to prevent brain drain and foreign exchange outflow.
He also pointed out that such educational institutes will attract foreign students in the region to the country.
He pointed out that the government has provided all infrastructure facilities required by the foreign investors to establish businesses in Sri Lanka with two international airports, two main harbors, highways and expressways.
The Minister also drew attention to the free trade zones in the country that have not been used to their full extent.
Sri Lanka has 12 Industrial Zones and 8 Free Trade Zones in the country another Free Trade Zone will be established in Suriyawewa in Hambantota.
Abeywardena said the currently there are several thousand vacancies in the Free Trade and Industrial Zones and steps will be taken to revive and develop the manufacturing units in those zones.
Sri Lanka is one of the ten economies in the world that are improving the most in the ease of doing business and the easiest among the South Asian countries, World Bank said in its Doing Business 2013 report.
Sri Lanka has implemented reforms making it easier to do business and the Central Bank of Sri Lanka under its Doing Business improvement programme has been engaged in an exercise since 2009 under the guidance of the Ministry of Economic Development to improve country's relative international ranking position substantially in order to successfully attract foreign investment.
However, Sri Lanka has been warned that the government's move to impeach the chief justice and its influence on the judiciary will affect the foreign investments to the country.
The United States recently said that actions undermining an independent judiciary would impact on Sri Lanka's ability to attract foreign investment.