Financial Times

North and East being primed for economic activity

By Dilshani Samaraweera

The BOI is waiting for government approval to offer investment incentive packages for the north. Incentives include tax holidays and duty free import facilities based on the sector of investment, the number of jobs created and the size of the investment.

“These investment packages will be presented to the highest level of government, for approval, over the next few days. We are also asking the government to identify land for investments and to vest the lands with the BOI, to speed up the process of land allocation to investors,” said the Deputy Director General (Investment), at the BOI, A. M. C. Kulasekera, speaking at a conference organised by the International Chamber of Commerce this week, on ‘Business Opportunities in the North’.

The BOI has identified agriculture and agro-processing, fisheries, dairy farming, tourism, health services and skills development, as investment areas for the North and East. Incentive packages for the east are already available for investors.

Meanwhile, goods transport between Colombo and Jaffna is to be opened up to the private sector over the next few days, under government supervision. This is expected to fuel trade. “Now the private sector can transport goods up to Medawachchiya only. But within the next few days there will be free flow of traffic between Jaffna and Colombo,” said the Director of Economics at the Peace Secretariat, Rohantha Athukorala.

To increase financial services, the Central Bank is encouraging mobile banking, ATM machines and bank branches in the North and East. The Central Bank says it will also introduce a re-finance scheme for small loans, to encourage livelihoods.

“In the coming weeks we will introduce a re-finance scheme of Rs 3 billion, to provide small loans to people, through the banks,” said Deputy Governor of the Central Bank, Dr Uthum Herat.

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