Business Times

‘One-Stop-Shop’ at Sri Lanka Tourism overrides BOI

Sri Lanka Tourism has taken to becoming the ‘One-Stop-Shop’ for industry specific investments taking charge of Board of Investment (BOI) functions as well. Acting as facilitator in processing tourism related investments, Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLDA) established this mechanism two years back and the system would be soon automated for increased convenience, SLTDA Chairman Dr. Nalaka Godahewa told the Business Times.

The automation process by June this year would enable investors to track the status of their applications and interact with relevant staff online. Functioning as a facilitation body for investors wanting to obtain a hassle-free service the staff of the ‘One-Stop-Shop’ has taken on the responsibility of coordinating with the BOI and the relevant line ministries in this regard, he said.

He pointed out, that over the past few years various other ministries passed relevant legislation thereby diluting the powers vested within the BOI. In this respect, approvals for projects left the investors with little choice but to approach the respective ministries and line agencies.

Dr. Godahewa believes that this situation could be corrected through fresh legislation empowering a single entity to make investment related decisions. The establishment of the ‘One-Stop-Shop’ was initiated based on the time taken for the approval process to be carried out and the requirement for an additional 22,500 hotel rooms by 2016, increasing total capacity to 45,000 rooms as per government policy.

In this respect, this unit was able to provide an efficient service to assist investors in obtaining approvals for tourism related projects. The unit received 189 project proposals since January 2012, 99 were approved and 33 of these are currently engaged in in the environment assessment process, Dr. Godahewa said.

He pointed out that 90 applications were processed with the coordination of line agencies and nearly 90% were hotel projects and the rest related to tourism infrastructure. The total number of rooms that obtained approval were at 9,122 as at end February this year with the total number of rooms awaiting approval - 5,498.

The chairman observed that should at least 80% be completed on schedule the authorities would be able to provide the required capacity to cater to the surging tourist arrivals. The unit is engaged in providing information on potential areas for tourism investments, a directory of lands available, locating entrepreneurs for joint ventures, completing application forms, conducting meetings, and fast-tracking the project clearance permit.

During the processing of the investment the unit provides site inspections involving all line agencies; handling payments for different line agencies; fast-tracking and coordinating the building plan and the BOI incentive schemes.

Following the final clearance for construction the unit provides services in setting up office and human resource requirements; facilitation on visas; monitoring and facilitating construction; and providing solutions in case of any issues arising.

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