Colombo, December 19 (The Star/The Malaysian Reserve): The delay in renewing Malaysian-owned telecom giant Dialog Axiata Group’s service license in Sri Lanka, which has held back up to US$300mil (RM1.22bil) of its additional investments here, is likely to be resolved soon.
The visiting Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has said that Sri Lanka’s President Maithripala Sirisena suggested during their meeting here that a mechanism has been set up to sort out the delay.
Dialog Axiata Plc, a subsidiary of Axiata Group Bhd, is the biggest telecommunication company in Sri Lanka.
The renewal application for the company’s service licenae in Sri Lanka has been pending for 30 months since May 2015.
“I see this as a positive development, that there is light at the end of the tunnel,” Najib told the Malaysian media accompanying him.
Najib said that Malaysia is Sri Lanka’s fourth biggest investor with 47 projects worth more than US$ 3 billion (RM12.2bil).
Dialog Axiata is the biggest Malaysian-owned firm in Sri Lanka, with investment in the country worth nearly US$2.2bil (RM9bil).
“Hopefully, this matter can be settled (soon) because Dialog Axiata has the capability to increase its investment in Sri Lanka,” Najib said.
The Malaysian Prime Minister launched Sri Lanka’s biggest digital venture capital fund.
Known as the Dialog Axiata Digital Innovation Fund (DADIF), the US$15 million (RM61mil) fund sponsored by Dialog Axiata Plc will be used to invest in Sri Lankan digital startups.
“It will fund the expansion of game-changing, best-in-class digital businesses in Sri Lanka,” Prime Minister Razak said in his speech during his visit to Dialog Axiata’s office here on Tuesday.
“It will help Sri Lanka’s digital entrepreneurs expand their business,” he said.
Najib is on a three-day official visit to Sri Lanka ended on Tuesday.
A key agenda of Najib’s visit to Sri Lanka was to further develop the proposal to set up a Free Trade Agreement with Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka is reportedly hoping to seek Malaysia’s assistance to set up a sectoral dialogue partnership with ASEAN.
Sri Lanka is currently one of the members of the ASEAN Regional Forum.
According to Malaysian Reserve, as of 2016, Sri Lanka is Malaysia’s 41st largest trading partner, 33rd largest export destination and 67th largest import source.
For the same period, Malaysia is Sri Lanka’s 10th largest trading partner, 37th largest export destination and sixth-largest import source.
Malaysia’s total exports to Sri Lanka in 2016 was US$579.9 million (RM2.37 billion).
Meanwhile, total imports from Sri Lanka in 2016 were US$59.2 million.
Malaysia has a total investment of US$3.1 billion in Sri Lanka with 47 projects spanning 8,335 employments.
(The featured picture at the top shows Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak with Lankan President Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe)