Policy stability key to attract investors: British Envoy

Published : 10:51 am  July 18, 2015 | No comments so far |  |  (405) reads | 

gyyu2The results of the upcoming election would not pose a threat to the natural growth of the Sri Lankan economy; however, the intentions of the current regime appear to be more investor- friendly, according to the British High Commissioner James Dauris.

“The underlying economic fundamentals of Sri Lanka are very strong; years of consistently strong economic growth, the highest rated country in South Asia by the World Bank in terms of doing business, strong tourist trade, highly educated population. Lots of reasons why companies should think about investing in Sri Lanka,” Dauris told Mirror Business.


However, he noted that the current government’s stand on corruption is more business-friendly, as corruption imposes significant extra hidden costs to doing business


He said that many investors are waiting for the elections to be over in order to commit their funds, and are expecting policy consistency.
“You can’t discount the importance of the election. A company which is thinking about investing now would wait, to see the outcome of the election. What businesses are going to be looking for is stability. The colour of government matters less. It’s the stability of policy,” he said.

However, he noted that the current government’s stand on corruption is more business-friendly, as corruption imposes significant extra hidden costs to doing business.

“If you take the current government’s intention to hunt down on large scale corruption; that will be welcome by businesses. Any government committed to making Sri Lanka more law abiding, reinforcing the law, and reducing corruption; that sort of change is going to be welcome. But in that sense, the intentions of the current government are welcome” Dauris said.

He noted that the British High Commission in Colombo is attempting to construct productive dialogues with businesses in the UK by providing information on Sri Lanka—both directly, and through chambers of commerce.
“We don’t have as many of the businesses we would like expressing interest.

It’s in our responsibilities as the High Commission, our challenge is, to encourage more businesses to think about and understand the opportunities here,” he said.


You can’t discount the importance of the election. A company which is thinking about investing now would wait, to see the outcome of the election. What businesses are going to be looking for is stability


Dauris added that most companies are currently attracted to India, despite a weaker doing business environment.
“There are some pretty significant hurdles to doing business in some sectors of India. While the end prize is potentially greater, smaller contractors in a smaller economy actually are—in the short term—a more worthwhile prospect,” he said.

Dauris said that the limit of the £300 million concessionary loan fund of the UK Export Finance programme for Sri Lanka has nearly been reached, and the British High Commission would evaluate writing to the British government to expand the limit, if needed.

Meanwhile, British High Commission Trade and Investment Head Gary Leslie said that a significant number of British companies are awaiting the upcoming election to be over in order to enter the country, and have already sorted out their finances.