July 05, Colombo: The World Bank says Sri Lanka's window of opportunity to improve investment climate is time-bound and it is important for Sri Lanka to show progress in improving business atmosphere to assert its position in the world.
World Bank Country Director for Sri Lanka and Maldives Ms. Idah Z. Pswarayi-Riddihough recognizing Sri Lanka's commitment and drive to accelerate its economic reform agenda, said the package of reforms is sound and overall will be beneficial, but to get better than satisfactory impact the reform process will need commitment and perseverance.
Delivering the opening remarks at the launch of the Roadmap to Improve the Investment Climate on Monday, Pswarayi-Riddihough said the launch marks a milestone achievement in Sri Lanka's commitment to change its business environment, to create more and better jobs; which in turn will end poverty and increase shared prosperity.
"Reforms are difficult and challenging, even for those who stand to gain the most from them," the World Bank official noted. "Sri Lanka needs to assert its position firmly in the region and in the world."
Speaking about the World Bank's Doing Business report which measures the ease of doing business in 190 countries, Pswarayi-Riddihough said it's very important to not only do well in a single year, but it may actually be more important to show progress.
"It's a proven fact that unless the investment climate is favorable, investors will look elsewhere for options."
Sri Lanka ranked 110th out of 190 countries in the ease of doing business in 2017 falling from the 107th place it earned a year before.
The World Bank official pointed out that Sri Lanka has potential to show that its predicted score is a positive one. "To do this it must - stay on the reform path. Consistency and determination to deliver high quality reforms will earn credibility," she said.
Pswarayi-Riddihough explained that the Doing business team put out a set of criteria at the beginning of every year against which performance is assessed and it is possible that at times a country's rating will fall even though they have carried out many reforms.
She suggested reviewing the target reforms to ensure that they are included in the priorities. "A steady pace of creating a robust regulatory and institutional foundation will help Sri Lanka raise its ranking," she added.
The official said it is possible for Sri Lanka to get a good ranking in the Doing Business report and should use the opportunity provided by regaining the GSP+ facility from the European Union recently.
"Recently, Sri Lanka regained access to GSP+; an incredible opportunity to give Sri Lanka a renewed chance to attract investors - but it must be seen as business friendly," she stressed.
"The roadmap to improve the investment climate is in place as is the Task Force to lead the work. But as with all windows of opportunity they are unfortunately time bound. Inaction over a period of time; and more importantly lack of results will hasten the window's closure," the World Bank official cautioned.
She said there is a need to build more buy-in from the citizens in this process. This is because when a country opens up its not only government that has a role to play, but the private sector, media, NGOs and citizens do too.
Congratulating the Government of Sri Lanka for marking the launch of the road map to improve the investment climate in Sri Lanka with the commitment that “Sri Lanka Means Business”, the World Bank official said the global lender is looking forward to continuing to partner with Sri Lanka along with other development partners in Sri Lanka's journey to rise up the ranks of the doing business index.