Business Times

Land clearance an issue for BOI projects

Whilst there are a host of interested investors to start projects through the Board of Investment in Sri Lanka (BOI), bottlenecks in securing state land is what is keeping them from getting off the ground, according to a top BOI official.

“After the war till now 250 projects have come into the country. From January till April there were only 66 projects. This shows that the country is really taking off in terms of investment. BOI has carried promotions in places like Australia, Japan, USA, Korea, Vietnam, UK and Germany. The responses from these countries are very positive and they are really interested, but to secure the land - especially state owned land to set these projects up is time consuming,” Dhammika Perera, BOI Chairman told the Business Times.

He said during the past 11 months BOI has granted approval for projects in IT, Business Process Outsourcing, tourism, higher education, agricultural projects, fisheries, cold storage rooms and a hospital. “There are also many firms keen on infrastructural projects as well,” he added. He also said that there is a firm commitment of a US $ 2 billion project, of which the details will be finalized by the year-end.

When asked about the conflict of interest in being in this position while also being the chairman and main shareholder of some major listed firms in the country, Mr. Perera said that he does not get involved in any projects directly. “In our project application form the investment amount of the particular project, the type of investment and how much of employment is generated is what is requested from the particular investor along with the location. It is a one page application and as such at the initial stages I do not get involved. Within 24 hours we also grant approval,” he said.

When asked about the access to competitor information by virtue of being the BOI Chairman, Mr. Perera said, “The firms that I own or have a stake made ‘good’ profits continuously before as well as after I became the BOI Chairman. As such I do not feel that market intelligence is of any importance to me. I have come are here to do an honorary job only for a particular period.”

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