Aug 25 (NIA) – Approvals for new projects in Sri Lanka are still too slow with red tape and official lethargy deterring investments, the EconomyNext, quoting a hospitality forum said here on Thursday.
Officials from the private sector tourism industry told a two day Indian Ocean Hospitality Investment Conference in Colombo that although the new Sri Lankan government was acutely aware of the need to speed up decision-making, bureaucrats seemed more keen to prevent investors rather than helping them.
The Forum was told that although Sri Lankan hotel firms invested in the Maldives during the ethnic conflict to hedge for war risk, Maldivian investments were not coming to the island even seven years after the war ended.
Mohamed Khaleel, Chief Operating Officer of Reollo Investments, a supplier of merchandise and services to the tourist industry in the Maldives, quoted in the media report said that there was still far too much red tape in Sri Lanka.
“You have a lot of red tape in the country – lengthy procedures to buy land, legal procedures are more complicated than in other countries,” he said.
But he noted that conditions were now improving and that was why international brands were entering the country.
Thilan Wijesinghe, Director of Ceylon Tea Trails, which operates boutique hotels, said the new government was aware of the problem and trying to speed up approvals.
“There is an acute recognition within the government of procedural delays investors face,” he said. “New laws have been mooted and the proposed agency for development will be given power to cut through red tape.”
Sri Lanka’s Board of Investments, in a statement last month said that the tourism sector had been experiencing an impressive growth after restoration of peace in the country.
“As a result of presence of international brands such as Shangri-La, Sheraton, Marriott, Grand Hyatt, Movenpick and Onyx investor confidence have grown immensely. Hence there are 7 new agreements that have been signed to set up hotel projects with an estimated investment of US 133 Million dollars and will create 950 direct job opportunities,” the BoI said.
The investment agency added that several new international hotels were also expected to be set up hotel projects in the island nation in the future.