Sri Lanka keen to attract investment to port sector

Colombo, May 2 (IANS) Sri Lanka kicked off an international conference here Thursday to attract investment and showcase the country as a port hub, a top official said.

Speaking at the event, MP Namal Rajapaksa, who is also the son of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, was upbeat in his call for investors to commit to the burgeoning sector, reports Xinhua.

Since a three decade war ended in 2009, the Sri Lankan government has ploughed more than $6 billion into massive investment projects including a $2.5 million harbour in the south of the country as well as an expansion project for the Colombo port.

Becoming a “port hub” has been a main focus of the Rajapaksa regime that has taken extensive loans to achieve this expensive goal.

However, Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) has been slow to take off with only $1.3 billion being attracted in 2012.

“Sri Lanka is seeing a good influx of investment from the high growth economies. Interaction with the local business communities will give you a good idea of the facilities for investment,” Namal Rajapaksa said.

Investment zones have been planned to link with ports in the south and eastern regions of the country with $700 million already pledged in projects, according to Ports Authority head P. Wickrama.

Sri Lanka hopes to become a mid-way hub between the Middle East and Singapore by capitalizing on its geographical location, which will also spur economic growth.

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