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BoI “Scrapped”

Sep 24, 2011 3:23:28 PM - thesundayleader.lk

Investors chase after institutions and not individuals, a Chartered Accountant said.
N.R. Gajendran, Partner, Gajma & Co., a tax consultancy, speaking at a pre-budget seminar on Wednesday was referring to the “scrapping of the BoI,” the country’s investment facilitator.
“As a result investors have to run all over,” he said.
Gajendran’s point was that bona fide investors won’t come to the island if it meant having to curry favour with individuals to get their projects passed.
Echoing the sentiments of the previous speaker Ms. Gayathria Gunaruwan, an economist (see also page 37), he said that SL is going to be challenged because the West’s consumption path has closed.
Gajendran however said that due to economies of scale it would be difficult for Sri Lanka to export to emerging economies such as India and China.
He further said that a retrogressive step in Budget 2011 was the removal of tax exemptions on agriculture and the non availability of an IT park.
A dangerous development was that the interest component in Government debt was between 6-7% or Rs. 350 billion from a total public debt figure of Rs. 4.5 trillion, said Gajendran.
National Chamber of Exporters President Sarath de Silva speaking on agriculture said that over 300 proposals were submitted to the BoI (which functions under the Economic Development Ministry) to set-up orchards, each commanding an expanse of some 100-150 acres.
But even after the lapse of 15 months nothing came off it due to alleged “blocks” made by line agencies such as the Forest Department, Land Alienation Board and the Land Reforms Commission.
De Silva’s suggestion therefore was to have an inter-ministerial one stop shop led by the Economic Development Ministry to clear such matters.
He also stressed the importance of increasing productivity and production in fruits, vegetables and spices so as to be in a position to meet the import demand emanating from global markets.
De Silva’s said that orchards and not homesteads were the way forward. He was confident that the Government would be able to achieve its export targets of US$ ($) 9 billion this year and $ 10 billion in the next.