Business Times

BOI to work on zone management as a priority

By Bandula Sirimanna

Sri Lanka’s Board of Investment (BOI) has been directed -- as an immediate priority -- to strengthen the management of its 12 Export Promotion Zones and industrial parks by fully utilizing its well developed infrastructure.

Economic Development Ministry sources said the BOI has been told to set up a dedicated Zone Management Division freeing it from bureaucratic red tape. A senior official of the ministry said investors of each zone must be provided all facilities and the zones should be geared to meet the challenges for the next 10 years.

Meanwhile Finance Ministry sources said the current BOI restructuring process is moving at a snails’ pace with investment approval procedures still to be streamlined. One official said that the BOI officials must be 100 % dynamic and institutional dynamism should come from them.

The BOI needs a new outlook and a new team because some of the executives are lethargic, the sources said. “They have to change their lifestyle, their attitudes and ensure that the BOI is client friendly and investor friendly and that is what the restructuring is all about,” the top finance ministry official, who wished to be anonymous, said.

The present need is to reorient the organisation to serve in the best interest of Sri Lanka, particularly because a very ambitious target has been set for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). FDI will not just come unless the BOI is absolutely dynamic, sources from both ministries said. However this is not happening due to differences of opinion among the top officials of the organization and it would take at least another two months to put the house in order, the sources disclosed.

However officials at the BOI allege that the government has launched a programme to destroy the institution by handing it over to political henchmen. Under the guise of restructuring, what has been done is to give appointments and promotions to their stooges, one BOI official alleged.

He also revealed a plan to hand over BOI lands to ruling party supporters to start tourism projects, and accused the authorities of handing over the activities of the investment services division to Sri Lanka Customs. BOI Chairman Jayampathi Bandaranayake was not available for comment as he was on an overseas tour.

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