The Board of Investment (BOI ) strives to ensure uninterrupted services for export-oriented enterprises amidst private sector concerns over the impact of the latest lock down in view of the worsening third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This stance of the BOI seems an indication of deviating from its prime task of promoting and attracting Foreign Direct Investment into the country , several economic experts said.
They added that the local investment promotion agency has displayed its incapability and inefficiency in the task given to it during the past several years, they pointed out.
BOI’s failure to attract FDI into the country has been highlighted by the President's Secretary P.B. Jayasundera when he was holding the post of Treasury Secretary during President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s regime.
He has taken measures to restructure the BOI in 2011 but since then, not a single government has taken any action to introduce reforms to revitalise the investment promotion agency. they pointed out.
Under this set up, realising Sri Lanka’s ambitious FDI target of USD 2.5 for this year set by State Minister of Finance Ajith Nivard Cabraal will be a distant dream, they emphasised.
Sri Lanka has declined by -53% on FDI from a record level of USD 1.6 billion in 2018 to USD 758 million in 2019.
FDIs, including foreign loans to BOI companies, were limited to USD 670 million in 2020, in comparison to USD 1,189 million in 2019, Central Bank data showed.
This was the past record of FDI with the efforts of promoting and attracting of foreign investment by the BOI, economic experts claimed.
However, the BOI enterprises have been encouraged to continue operations, while strictly adhering to the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health, BOI Chairman Sanjaya Mohottala said in a statement.
"The countrywide travel restrictions will not cause any inconvenience to the cargo movements and logistic facilities. Exports of the companies will continue unabated amidst travel restrictions,” he added.
He stressed the need of continuing the manufacturing process as a national responsibility, despite the current COVID-19 situation in the country.
“All the services provided by the BOI will be available without interruption through online platforms and at service locations. We will facilitate enterprises within and outside the BOI zones to operate without any interruption,” he added.
Export enterprises have expressed concerns over latest travel restrictions as well as partial lock down measures to have an impact on staff attendance and logistics.