By:Staff WriterColombo (LNW): Sri Lanka is to embark on an ambitious initiative of the setting up of an exclusive manufacturing zone in Sri Lanka for investors from the giant neighbour India for re-export.
President Ranil Wickremesinghe last week agreed in principle to a proposal by the Indian CEO Forum President T. S. Prakash for this purpose.
He expressed the belief that Sri Lanka should take maximum advantage of close proximity, size and huge demand from India. It would be worth considering to establish duty free export promotion zone mainly to manufacture and make ancillary items for India,
Prakash made this proposal at the Indian CEO Forum’s annual fellowship banquet at the Taj Samudra, Colombo.
“The entire transaction can be in INR so that more and more Indian investments can be attracted to Sri Lanka which may create huge employment opportunities and up to a certain extent, brain drain can be arrested by creating the job avenues for the local professionals,” he added.
In response President Wickremesinghe who was the Chief Guest, in his speech inquired from Prakash “how many acres you want and where” for the exclusive zone, amidst applause from the audience. Thereafter, the President said, the Government will look around for a place whether in the north, west or Trincomalee in the east.
In response to the use of Indian Rupee, the President said the Sri Lankan Government would want to see the Indian rupee used as much as the dollar. “It makes no difference to us if India becomes a common currency. We’ll have to figure out how to go about it,” Wickremesinghe added.
Prakash in his address noted that given the challenges faced by people of Sri Lanka as a result of the economic crisis, ICF believes that it is essential for the private sector to identify and attract investment from India into key selective sectors in Sri Lanka.
ICF has membership of 62 companies of 35 Indian investments which have secured employment for a larger segment either directly or indirectly.
He said the initiative will focus on bringing sustainable investment that will create employment opportunities, skill development and investment to improve livelihoods and greater economic activities.
Prakash told the event that ICF has formulated the project initiative SHINE Lanka in collaboration with the Board of Investment, KPMG , High Commission of India in Sri Lanka, and High Commission of Sri Lanka in India.
“Due to various reasons the project was on hold. Now we are in the process of resuming the operation and we are going to focus on three key sections – Information technology, Education and Tourism,” he added.