Thursday, December 7, 2017

SEIC 2017 kicks off in Colombo: An investment seminar to highlight Sri Lanka’s investment opportunities

The Government yesterday encouraged more than 200 forthcoming financial specialists from China, Wall Street, London, Geneva, Dubai, Hong Kong, Singapore and Amsterdam on the perpetual venture openings in Sri Lanka at the inaugural Sri Lanka Economic and Investment Conclave (SEIC) 2017 which commenced in Colombo yesterday.

Conveying the keynote address, Megapolis and Western Development Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka focused on that the Government was quick to support foreign investors and technology contributors to invest in Sri Lanka's significant projects and available investment opportunities, which were fundamentally connected with the nation's modern smart city concept.

"The global private sector will be considered as our key accomplices. The Government will just put resources and investments into the most essential areas without a doubt to  the fundamental territories. We have arranged the foundation to suit cutting edge necessities on account of an advanced perspective and promoting a public-private partnership (PPP) model,” he included.

Noticing that Sri Lanka is blessed with a highly literal population, strong legal system and a holding a key position in the strategic location in South Asia, the Minister welcomed all investors to leave their impression in Sri Lanka, which he portrayed as the hub of the Indian Ocean.

The minister also acknowledged China's longstanding companionship and said China today was the biggest investor to Sri Lanka.

The Central Bank Governor Dr. Indrajit Coomaraswamy said the worldwide economy had various tailwinds for Sri Lanka and considering all the macroeconomic variables, it furnishes the nation with an awesome chance to assist financial and economic success.

“The global economy has a number of tailwinds for Sri Lanka. The macroeconomic fundamentals are being strengthened through clear frameworks which have been put in place to provide consistent and predictable policies, while a growth framework has been improved for the investment climate. We have the location and we have excellent international relations with all the countries in the world. So when you take all of that together Sri Lanka provides you with a great opportunity,” he included.    

SEIC 2017 Organizing Committee Chairman Dr. Palitha Kohona said it is the first in a progression of gatherings that will be facilitated by the arranging board of trustees to feature Sri Lanka's rich potential as an investment destination.

“Our goal is to introduce this land of endless opportunities to the world and hope that mutually beneficial prosperity will follow. We aim to use this conclave to methodically and in detail explain what Sri Lanka has to offer by way of opportunities to the wide range of participants at SEIC 2017,” he included.

Dr. Kohona said the keen interest of Chinese businesses in SEIC 2017 clearly suggested that Sri Lanka has something special to offer to a lot of investment opportunities in Sri Lanka and, further, to create and strengthen investment partnerships with China, USA, Netherlands, Switzerland, Dubai, Japan and Hong Kong.

The two-day conclave will feature a range of in-depth analytical presentations on topics of world economic potential placing special emphasis on Sri Lanka as an investment destination, The future of private investments together with corporate/ institutional investments in Sri Lanka and will examine the protection of foreign investments, repatriation of profits, dividends, wages, taxation, etc. The hosts of the even are Hairong Investments International, Trive International and Opportunity Sri Lanka.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Budget Analysis 2018

  •  Liberalisation, promoting entrepreneurship, attracting FDI, boosting exports, helping SMEs
  •  Excise, Customs, Rent, Paddy Lands, Shop and Office acts and bankruptcy laws to be revamped
  •  Aims for 5% growth, 6% inflation, 4.5% deficit
  •   Electrical vehicle prices slashed by Rs.1 million, fuel vehicles to be phased out by 2040, carbon tax
  •    Development Bank for SMEs, angel fund for IT, 1,200 para-tariffs to be phased out
  •   Restrictions of foreign ownership in shipping to be removed, online travel agents to be charged 1% on commissions, VAT refunds for tourists, rationalisation of liquor licenses and taxes
  • PPP guidelines to be issued soon, housing, roads and education go rural, urban hub for Colombo.                                     
Delivering on his promise to keep the Budget speech concise, Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera yesterday unveiled a slew of proposals to liberalise restrictive laws, promote exports, expand tourism, maintain fiscal consolidation, foster start-ups and open Sri Lanka to investment to achieve 5% growth in 2018.
The Budget also aimed to achieve medium-term targets such as per capita income of $ 5,000, one million new jobs, FDI inflows of $ 5 billion and doubling exports to $ 20 billion, as outlined in V2025. The Excise and Customs Ordinance, Rent Act, Paddy Lands Act, Agriculture Lands Act, Shop and Office Employees Act and bankruptcy laws were among the list of laws the Government plans to either repeal or amend.
“In 2018, we envisage GDP growth of 5%, inflation of around 6%, and we hope to achieve for the first time in almost six decades primary surplus of 1% of GDP and a Budget deficit of 4.5% of GDP,” Samaraweera said before launching into proposals for a “Blue-Green” economy that plans to introduce environmental safeguards.
On vehicle imports the Budget proposed to phase out all fossil fuel vehicles by 2040, encourage imports of electric buses and three-wheelers, slash prices on electric vehicles by at least Rs. 1 million, establish charging stations, introduce a carbon tax, excise duty of Rs. 10 per kilo of plastic and Rs. 3 billion to fast track the Aruwakkalu waste disposal site.
An allocation of Rs. 3 billion was proposed to set up an insurance scheme for farmers. During a natural disaster a minimum of Rs. 40,000 per acre for six crops including, paddy, maize, soya, big onion, potato, and chilli, will be paid under the propose scheme. This will be a contributory scheme with the premium being borne by both the farmer and the Government.
Credit and capital for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) will be provided by the establishment of a Development Bank at a cost of Rs. 10 billion with an “EXIM window”. Eight new credit schemes are to be introduced to disburse a total of Rs. 15 billion with all existing and new schemes to be gathered under the “Enterprise Sri Lanka Credit Scheme”. As much as Rs. 2.2 billion will also be spent under the Grama Shakthi initiative to provide capital to small businesses and reduce poverty.
“IT and the IT related sectors have the potential to reach $ 5 billion in export earnings in the next five years. As such, to support this industry, specially the SME IT companies, we will launch, the ‘IT Initiative’, which is in effect the Government’s angel fund for the IT industry. This initiative will be operated through the EDB and we will invest Rs. 3 billion.”
At the outset the IT Initiative will finance 50% of the rent expenditure for 24 months on the Hatch Incubator and similar support to any private ventures, Colombo, Moratuwa and SLIIT universities will conduct training courses in Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, Data Science, Machine Learning and Python Development in collaboration with the industry.
A proposed SME Guarantee Fund will enable SME Exporters who are in the CRIB but have the potential to export, yet have no access to finance its operations, to access financing from banks utilising the SME guarantees.
Moving on to tourism, the Finance Minister said Online Travel Agents (OTAs), both resident and non-resident, which derive their commission from the businesses carried out in Sri Lanka, will face a tax of 1% on the commission derived from local reservations.
In keeping with the vision to make Sri Lanka a shopping hub, a VAT refund scheme for foreign passport holders will be implemented at the Airports and Sea Ports with effect from 1 May 2018.
The Board of Investment, the relevant line agencies and the newly-established Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Unit will collaborate in facilitating such ventures with an allocation of Rs. 2.5 billion. PPP guidelines are to be issued shortly, the Minister assured.

Friday, October 20, 2017

South Korea to sign economic cooperation agreement with Sri Lanka

  • ·         Agreement will cover the fields of investment partnership, trade relations, tourism promotion, and industrial cooperation

Sri Lanka will sign an economic cooperation agreement with South Korea during the state visit of President Maithripala Sirisena, which is scheduled for next month, the government said. The economic cooperation agreement will cover the fields of investment partnership, trade relations, tourism promotion, and industrial cooperation.
The Cabinet, this week, approved a proposal made by Development Strategies and International Trade Minister Malik Samarawickrama to sign this agreement. In March this year, South Korea’s then Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se visited Sri Lanka as the first South Korean top diplomat to visit Sri Lanka in 31 years. He held bilateral discussions with his Sri Lankan counterpart during which both sides agreed to further strengthen economic ties.

South Korean Foreign Minister said that they want to expand economic cooperation with Sri Lanka from 300 million dollars to 500 million dollars over the next three years. Over 30,000 Sri Lankan workers are officially employed in Korea in fisheries, manufacturing and construction sectors under a special employment quota. Two countries also mark the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations this year.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

CEB to purchase 100 Mw of emergency power

Sri Lanka’s cabinet has approved a proposal to procure 100MW of electricity from private power producers for a period of 6 months with the option of extending it by further 6 months. The Power Ministry said cabinet approval has been obtained to purchase electricity in the short term at competitive prices through international bidding.
Island’s power regulator earlier warned of serious consequences to be expected if the timely implementation of long term generation plan is not ensured. Public Utilities Commission said due to planned plants not being built as per the timeline, unforeseen power procurement and change of power mix have resulted the increase in the average unit cost of electricity.
In 2016, actual power purchases from oil based plants have increased by 6 times than planned for 2016. Power Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya, releasing a statement, however, said that it is not a problem of state policy and planning.

“Hydropower generation is challenged due to the lack of sufficient hydropower during Southwest and Northeast monsoon rainfall in 2017,” “In this backdrop, the CEB is taking measures to ensure the continuous power supply in the country.” Siyambalapitiya said these emergency power purchases will not result in an extra expenditure to the end consumer. He added that this additional electricity purchase will be less than the cost of some of the gas turbines used by the CEB during the night between 6.30am and 10.30pm, which will be the highest daily electricityrequirement of the system.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

National Agency for Public Private Partnership

                                                  Thilan Wijesinghe – Chairman of the NAPPP
Former BOI Chairman Thilan Wijesinghe to head the new body: Wide range of legal, financial and administrative authority: A high-powered ‘National Agency for Public Private Partnership’ was appointed to fast-track Sri Lanka’s economic development agenda.
The Cabinet granted approval to appoint former BOI Chairman and business professional Thilan Wijesinghe as the head of the new agency. The Cabinet paper with regard to the establishment of the new agency was jointly submitted by Finance and Media Minister Mangala Samaraweera and Development Strategies and International Trade Minister Malik Samarawickrema.
The NAPPP (National Agency for Public Private Partnership) will be undertaking the ongoing and potential PPP Project Pipeline that includes:
  •              Transport Sector Projects – Inland Water Transport, highway projects & inland airline system.
  •        Ports – Trinco economic corridor & East terminal through ADB Funding.
  •      Power & Energy projects – LNG Kerawalpitiya, 100Mw Solar Project & Waste to energy project.
  •       Petroleum Sector – Sapugaskanda & Hambantota refinery.
  •       Water – Welivita & Jaffna desalination.
  •       SEZ/Industrial Zone – Hambantota SEZ & Horana industrial zonand – New buildings to be constructed on PPP basis.
  •     Healthcare – 24 Projects related to import substitutions for healthcare.
  •     Education – Berkley University project
  •    Mineral Sector – Graphite & Phosphate extraction
  •      Millenium Challenge Corporation Project

It will also have additional powers to identify suitable projects based on feasibility studies and maintain a ‘project pipeline’ in consultation with government ministries. The board of directors of the new agency will consist of eight professionals with vast experience in the public and private sectors namely:
                      1.       Mr. Thilan Wijesinghe, Chairman of the Board
                      2.       Mr S. R. Attygalle, Deputry Secretary to the Treasury
                      3.       Dr. Sarath Rajapathirane, Economic advisor to H.E. the President
                      4.       Mr. Mangala Yapa, Director of BOI
                      5.       Mr. Mano Tittawella, Senior advisor to the Finance Minister
                      6.       Mr. Deshal de Mel, Advisor to the Finance Minister
                      7.       Mrs. Dhara Wijethilake, CEO  Ceylon Chamber of Commerce
                      8.       Mr. Duminda Hulangamuwa, Tax Partner, EY

The new agency has replaced the division which operated under the Finance Ministry to handle certain areas with regard to Public Private Partnerships (PPP). Under the new NAPP, PPP agreements will be carried out by this national agency with adequate legal, administrative and financial authority.

Monday, October 2, 2017

USD125 Mn loan from World Bank for Transport Connectivity and Asset Management Project

  • $125 million dollar loan from the World Bank for the new Transport Connectivity and Asset Management Project

Sri Lanka’s government signed an agreement to get a 125 million dollar loan from the World Bank for the new Transport Connectivity and Asset Management Project, Friday. The loan for this project is provided by the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s grant and low-interest arm, with a maturity of 25 years that includes a grace period of five years.
“The Road Development Authority will monitor the contractor and make payment based on the delivery of safe roads free of pot holes, water logging, with shoulders, drainage, and lighting that are well maintained and comfortable for the road users,” said Amali Rajapaksa, World Bank Senior Infrastructure Specialist and Task Team Leader.
“These types of contracts will benefit the Government, contractors and the general public by saving costs and serving as a model that could be adopted by many other sectors in the future.” The project also supports a program financed by the Asian Development Bank (ADB). The RDA is the lead implementing agency.
A dense network makes roads the preferred mode of transportation in Sri Lanka, carrying 95 percent of passenger traffic and 98 percent of freight. Building on the lessons from the World Bank-supported Roads Sector Assistance Project, the new project will help strengthen the RDA by focusing on the institutional and system changes that can transform the authority from a provider of infrastructure to a service provider.
The contracting approach to be piloted in the project aims to improve construction quality, minimize delays and costs, and address the issue of poor-performing contractors. The project will be implemented on the section between Ja-Ela and Chilaw on National Road A003. The contractor will carry out the design, upgrading, rehabilitation, and maintenance under a long-term contract.
“Maximizing quality and minimizing costs of the island-wide road network will no doubt become a model project of the Road Development Authority,” said Pswarayi-Riddihough. “Better and safer roads will benefit all Sri Lankans and contribute to the country’s prosperity and poverty reduction.”

Tobacco Control Project in Sri Lanka

  •        $20 Million is allocated for this project from the UK Health Department

The British government’s Department of Health is committing £15 million ($20 million) to bolster international support for a tobacco control project in Sri Lanka, which is believed to have the world’s highest rate of oral cancer among men.
The new project will promote accelerated implementation of the World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) in low- and middle-income countries, with Sri Lanka one of just 15 priority countries. British High Commissioner to Sri Lanka James Dauris said 60 countries applied for support from the WHO.
“Priority countries weren’t selected on the basis only of need, but also on level of commitment,” he told a news conference, a statement said. Tobacco use is one of the principal causes of oral cancer and in Sri Lanka oral cancer is the most common form of male cancer, Dauris said. “I understand that Sri Lanka is the only country in the world where this is so.
This alone is a good argument for investing in change.” Evidence from around the world confirms that effective measures reduce the burden of tobacco related death and disease, freeing up money and resource to be spent and invested in more productive ways, he said.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Tender floated for 50,000 houses in Northern Province

opportunity Sri Lanka
  •           GoSL has floated tenders for  construction of 50,000 permanent brick and mortar houses
  •      The project is to be executed by the Ministry of National Integration and Reconciliation together with other relevant line ministries and agencies.                                                                           
The Government has floated tenders for the construction of 50,000 permanent brick and mortar houses for the north and east as part of resettlement and reconciliation initiative.
The move follows Cabinet approving a Memorandum submitted by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, to construct 50,000 brick and mortar houses for conflict-affected families in the Northern and Eastern provinces.
The project is to be executed by the Ministry of National Integration and Reconciliation together with other relevant line ministries and agencies. The project was formulated under the guidance of the Northern and Eastern Provinces Development Committee and recommended by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Management headed by the Prime Minister and gained the endorsement of Cabinet. The Ministry of National Integration and Reconciliation directly comes under the purview of President Maithripala Sirisena. Action was taken to call for the tenders with financing arrangements on soft terms, revealed Ministry of National Integration and Reconciliation Secretary V. Sivagnanasothy.
Already invitations for proposals have been advertised and will be open to eligible bidders and financiers.Bidders who submit proposals should also get confirmed financing arrangements from donors or financing institutions. Members of the Parliament, district officials and civil society organisations welcomed the initiative as the proposals were acceptable to the social context of the provinces and address the long-felt needs of conflict-affected families.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

You can now score up to $1m seed funding in Sri Lanka. These co-founders show how.

  •        Medtech app oDoc – score US$1 million seed funding
  •       This is the largest seed investment round for any startup in Sri Lanka.

The island nation south of India with its gorgeous beaches, rainforests, and ancient Buddhist ruins just saw one of its startups – medtech app oDoc – score US$1 million seed funding.
This is the largest seed investment round for any startup in Sri Lanka. The country’s startup ecosystem is still very young with over 50 percent of its entrepreneurs using their personal savings to fund their companies. The seed funding round for oDoc comes at an opportune time as the island’s mass market is embracing tech through new ride-hailing options.
ODoc isn’t going after the mass market though – at least not yet. The app connects patients with doctors for video consultation. Say you wake up in the morning with a nasty rash and fever. 
Three taps on your smartphone and you can submit your pre-consultation notes, take a picture of your rash, and get a doctor to review those. A doctor will call you and send his prescription with the doctor’s seal and signature right to your phone. All done in 10 minutes.
Many startups around the world have been at it but oDoc’s four founders – with their diverse backgrounds – approached it more from a design perspective than as a tech problem to solve.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Sri Lankan born Venture Capitalist – Chamath Palihapitiya raises $600 Mn in IPO for Tech Investments

  •          Chamath had raised 600 million dollars in its IPO to invest in private tech companies
  •          There are about 150 private tech startups valued at over $1 billion

Chamath Palihapitiya, founder of the venture-capital firm Social Capital, has launched a new “blank-check” company in partnership with the London-based VC firm Hedosophia, named Social Capital Hedosophia Holdings Corp.
Social Capital Hedosophia said it had raised 600 million dollars in its IPO to invest in private tech companies, Business Insider reported. Blank-check public companies, or special purpose acquisition companies, which raise money first and then figure out how to invest it, are in vogue, according to The Wall Street Journal’s Maureen Farrell.
Social Capital Hedosophia estimates there are about 150 private tech startups valued at over $1 billion, compared with about 200 public technology companies with a market cap of $1 billion. Private tech startups can now hold out from going public indefinitely because of money available to fund growth from private investors.

Twenty-two blank check funds have been launched on US exchanges so far this year, raising 6.9 billion dollars, Farrell reports, citing Dealogic data. Tony Bates, a Social Capital partner and former CEO of Skype, is on the holding company’s board, while Palihapitiya will be the CEO.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

MCC Grant from USA Soon

  •       This is going to be the biggest grant ever by any country

Economic Affairs Deputy Minister Dr. Harsha de Silva yesterday said that Sri Lanka would receive several hundreds of millions of dollars in grant assistance from the US as a result of signing the Millennium Challenge Cooperation Compact.
Noting that it will be the largest grant Sri Lanka is to receive, he was however unable to disclose the amount. “We don’t know what the amount is. It is being processed now. We are confident it will be several hundreds of millions of dollars of grant assistance to Sri Lanka.
The Deputy Minister said that this is a grant "to the Sri Lankan people by the American people" and that it is "the biggest grant ever by any country". Dr. De Silva said the grant money would go into a number of sectors. “We will utilize those kinds of funds in most urgent areas including land reforms, transport and agriculture logistics.”

SEIC 2017 kicks off in Colombo: An investment seminar to highlight Sri Lanka’s investment opportunities

The Government yesterday encouraged more than 200 forthcoming financial specialists from China, Wall Street, London, Geneva, Dubai, H...