ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, April 22, 2007
Vol. 41 - No 47
Financial Times  

Dhammika’s plans on jump-starting the BOI

By Duruthu Edirimuni

The new ambitious Chairman at the Board of Investment (BOI) has given six months to the investors to start their projects once approved. Dammika Perera, also an entrepreneur in his own right, is planning to sanction the 550 aspirant investors within less than two weeks. “We will take less than two weeks to approve these applications. I have gone through them and 80 percent of each project can be cleared in three hours,” he told The Sunday Times FT.

Perera said a maximum time period of six months is granted to the investors (who have got their projects approved) to start implementing the projects. He noted that there are projects where it will take about one month to approve, but those are special cases. “These projects have issues with their licensing processes, some projects have chemical involvement, there are issues about monopolistic nature of projects and infrastructure projects will take nearly a month to get approvals,” he explained.

Perera plans to attack investment such as agro industrial projects, technology based projects, infrastructure projects and Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) in order to ‘retain investment’ in the country. He said that over 40 projects have been approved during the last two days that he had taken over at the BOI. “From Monday onwards I want to make sure that it will take only three hours to approve projects that do not require special treatments like the above,” he said.

When asked why he was unable to carry out such implementation during the last one year and three months that he was a director in the BOI board, he said that he had discussions with the board on numerous occasions, but to no avail. “I spoke to them about these improvements, but I did not have the power to implement but now I do,” he said.

He said that if any issue springs up about his own companies, which are mostly BOI approved, he will not sit in judgment on any decision taken by the board at BOI.“I will not interfere. But I do not have businesses that fall into the ‘special’ category such as in the monopolistic category or special licence required business. Therefore I do not foresee any issues,” he added.

He noted that the progress of the BOI over the past 29 years has not kept pace with developments in the modern world. Perera said that he had noted the investors are not treated ‘properly’. “It is a long time since subsequent governments identified the private sector as the engine of growth but little has been done to actually encourage investors,” he said adding that in the future the BOI will not rely solely on foreign investors and will treat local entrepreneurs as well with equal priority.

He said that in other countries investors are garlanded and welcomed. “In Sri Lanka too you should make them welcome rather than making them run from pillar to post. There are nine floors at the BOI that have reception desk but the investors are directed to the various departments through the back door. I have instructed to clear one whole floor for investors,” he said, adding that there are many such administrative issues that he will be looking into.

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Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.