Poised For Prosperity

Sri Lanka Investment Forum 2021 facilitates 150+ investor meetings

Termed as Asia’s first and largest virtual investor forum, the SLIF, according to organisers, has drawn 4,000 participants, including 1,500 investors and over 100 speakers across 120 sessions.

The recently concluded Sri Lanka Investment Forum 2021 (SLIF 2021), organised by the Board of Investment (BOI), Ceylon Chamber of Commerce and Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE), facilitated over 150 virtual meetings between foreign investors and FDI project promoters and listed corporates. 

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa inaugurating the forum while speaking on the opening day of the session said that “there are significant opportunities across many economic sectors in Sri Lanka that can provide tremendous returns to foreign and local investors alike. With its geostrategic location only a few hours away by air from major global hubs, Sri Lanka is one of the best-connected nations in all of South Asia. The commercial capital, Colombo, is one of the most attractive and liveable cities in the region.”

He added that the opportunity this city affords will soon be greatly enhanced by the Colombo Port City, a new cityscape that will feature world class residential, commercial, social and entertainment facilities.

He told investors that Sri Lanka is committed to maintaining policy stability and consistency within a stable macroeconomic environment. To this end he said that legal and regulatory frameworks are being refined to ensure greater responsiveness, transparency, and security for investors. Unnecessary bureaucratic red tape is being removed and procedures are being streamlined to ensure greater ease of doing business.

“Special legislation has already been passed to ensure special incentives and exemptions for businesses that can have a broad economic impact. We encourage business leaders from all nations to make full use of the unique strengths and many opportunities that the Port City affords by investing here.,” he told the investors who had gathered virtually for the forum.

The President stressed on important facets of development drive such as the climate change and food security adding that Sri Lanka is presently forging ahead to become a nation of organic agriculture.  He said he was confident Sri Lanka can supply high quality agricultural produce to health conscious, demanding consumers in the region. He referred to this sector whilst inviting investors for the many opportunities

Promising lucrative prospects, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa invited global companies to select Sri Lanka as their “investment destination of choice” as the Government stepped up efforts to boost its international profile. 

“Our Government has already started to put a number of measures in place that would make Sri Lanka an attractive country for investors from all around the world. These measures are aimed at ensuring that both local and foreign investors will be able to establish profitable ventures without unnecessary barriers. In this background, we eagerly invite you to select Sri Lanka as your investment destination of choice,” said the Prime Minister, speaking on Day 2 of the virtually-held Sri Lanka Investment Forum. With measures taken to expedite the implementation of key economic development projects despite the COVID-19 pandemic, PM Rajapaksa said that the country had shown economic resilience, with Sri Lanka on a path to achieve over 6% GDP growth rate following a 3.6% contraction last year. 

The Prime Minister in his speech listed various reforms undertaken by the Government to make Sri Lanka attractive with sound macroeconomic fundamentals to drive towards a prosperous future. ‘The Government recognises the importance of foreign direct investments (FDI) as a game-changer in a post-pandemic era. We have introduced a number of tax exemptions in the 2021 Budget, particularly in boat building, bonded warehouses and renewable energy, as well as financial and non-financial incentives. These measures are aimed at ensuring both local and foreign investors are able to establish profitable ventures without unnecessary barriers,” said the Premier, who is also the Finance Minister.

The forum facilitated over 150 virtual meetings, which were seen as productive by foreign investors as well as the participating Sri Lankan institutions. Leading Sri Lankan institutions, which joined the forum to present Sri Lanka’s investment propositions, included state institutions, listed companies, investment banks and consulting firms from over 18 industry sectors. The virtual platform provided a convenient environment for investors and promoters to set up meetings at mutually convenient times. The platform also enabled query and chat facilities, which facilitated rapid responses to investor queries, many of which are expected to result in deeper follow-up engagements going forward. 

Commenting on these meetings, BOI Chairman Sanjaya Mohottala stated, “We are very encouraged by the response from international investors for the FDI projects showcased at the SLIF, with a significant number of project partners connecting one-on-one during the B2B sessions over the three days, with more meetings scheduled in the coming weeks. For the FDI side, prospective investors had a catalogue of almost 50 large-scale FDI projects valued at over US $ 5 billion, detailing opportunities to invest in Sri Lanka across multiple sectors ranging from hospitality and leisure, infrastructure, renewable energy to oil and gas.” CSE Chairman Dumith Fernando added, “The SLIF provided excellent results with a large number of foreign investors speaking directly with listed companies virtually at a time when physical investor meetings are not possible.  From the perspective of Sri Lankan listed companies, many were delighted by the new and diverse investors they were introduced to at the forum. At the same time, investors were pleased to see the breadth of information and transparency achieved through the SLIF, which would be useful in their future investment decisions.” 

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