There will be a little bit of corruption - Sujeewa

There will be a little bit of corruption - Sujeewa

November 9, 2017   02:22 pm

State Minister of International Trade Sujeewa Senasinghe says that for a long time Sri Lanka has been lagging behind in creating a conducive environment for attracting foreign direct investments and that they hope to increase the island’s ease of doing business rank. 

He stated that the government is currently in the process of restructuring the Board of Investment (BoI) and that several professors are working on that. 

He said that when the incumbent government came to power Sri Lanka’s rank in the ease of doing business index, published by the World Bank, was 85 and that now it has slipped down to 110.  

“Because we were trying to put the system right it has gone back, but now we have identified 15 major changes, especially legal, so we have 10 task forces working on that,” he said in an exclusive interview with Ada Derana. 

He stated that these 15 main priorities have been given to the Prime Minister and that the changes will take time as legislatures and regulations have to be amended because they have been unchanged for the past 40—50 years. 

Senasinghe said that with these changes they are hoping to bring Sri Lanka’s rank in the ease of doing business index from 110 up to 70 by the year 2020. He stated that China is ranked 69th, Thailand is in the 46th place while Malaysia is 23rd. 

He stated that these countries were behind Sri Lanka in the 1980s and that now it is the opposite.  “We are trying to match probably Thailand first and then reach Malaysia in the future within about five years probably we can be in the 40 or 45th position.”  

‘We are not going to create heaven here’

The State Minister stated that Sri Lanka is the only country that has duty-free access to the United States, Europe, China and India. 

He stated that there was a big uproar over the trade agreement with India, but pointed out that it will be opening a 4.5 billion market around the country with duty free access. 

“Sri Lanka is the only country - because of us- we have duty free access to US, we have duty free access to Europe with GSP Plus and then we have duty free access to China and India. No other country has it.” 

He said that is how the government intends to attract the production in Sri Lanka. “Then foreigners will come and then they will merge with us and they will start producing here.”

“Because even to India it’s going to be duty free. A vehicle to India will be duty free under the agreement,” Senasinghe said. 

He stated that it will be a huge plus for Sri Lanka as India is growing at 7.2% and their middle class in growing rapidly and therefore we have 4.5 billion - the highest concentration of population - is here above Sri Lanka. 

“Sri Lanka is just 22 million. With the trade agreements we are opening they only have a 22 million market while we have a 4.5 billion market on top of us. So this is the future,” the State Minister said. 

Senasinghe stated that he had spoken to the German trade minister who showed interest in manufacturing electric cars in Sri Lanka, but pointed out that the issue is that there are too many committees in the country.

He stated that decisions need to be taken fast and that they have to make sure that the system also works fast as they cannot be wasting time.  

However, he added, that according to the good governance promised to the people all these committees are also necessary in order to curb corruption and nepotism. 

“You see all sorts of allegations coming here and there so we are trying to minimize. We are not saying we are going to create heaven here.” 

“There will be a little bit of corruption but transparency is there and you’ll have the right to talk about it.” 

“If I’m corrupt you can voice it,” he said, adding that they are not going to send white vans or carry out attacks.

“They say there are problems here and there. There will be problems but all we can say is there is transparency and people can talk about it.”  He stated that the media has utmost freedom while the police and other institutions are not politicized. 

“We have put the foundation so give us some time the rest will fall in place,” he said. 

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