* Govt. forecasts US$ 1.75bn FDI next year
* Colombo attracts highest tourism investment
By Mario Andree
Deputy Minister of Economic Development Lakshman Yapa Abeyawardane says foreign direct investment (FDI) flows have improved this year, reaching US$ 1.07 billion up to December 2011 and the government expects more than US$ 1.75 billion in FDIs next year.
He said the US$ 1.07 billion inflow during the first eleven months of this year was a record high.
Up to December 2011, The Board of Investment (BOI) had approved 131 projects including expansions and signed 138 agreements. Fifty one (51) companies have already commenced commercial operations with 3,154 job opportunities created, but 67 agreements have been terminated, Abeyawardane said speaking to The Island Financial Review.
BOI data presented by the deputy minister showed that US$ 190 million had also been generated from local investments.
Last year the BOI had attracted FDIs amounting to US$ 516 million with 363 projects approved and 269 agreements signed, much lower than the US$ 1 billion that was expected to flow in to the post-conflict economy. Around 120 of these commenced commercial operations which created 9,729 job opportunities and local investments amounted to US$ 433 million.
With the 30 year civil conflict ending in May 2009, the country attracted US$ 602 million in FDI with 384 projects approved, 182 agreements signed with 118 commencing operations creating 15,963 job opportunities.
In 2008 the BOI had attracted US$ 889 million FDI with 460 projects approved, 253 agreements signed and 185 commencing operations creating 6,231 job opportunities.
Abeyawardane said the One-Stop Unit of the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority was able to attract investments to the hospitality industry amounting to US$ 1.86 billion since September 2010 to October 2011.
The unit has so far granted approval to 73 projects relating to infrastructure development of the tourism sector which was enjoying an occupancy rate of more than 75 percent.
The SLTDA one stop shop which commenced operations September last year has attracted 189 projects for the first ten months of this year, of which 112 are currently being evaluated, while 73 have been granted approval while 38 are in the process of obtaining environmental impact assessments. Four project proposals have been rejected this year.
Abeyawardane said the 185 projects would create more than 11,800 rooms distributed in several key districts in the country with a total investment of US$ 1.86 billion, which comprises both an FDI component and local investments.
The once conflict affected North and East attracted 44 projects worth US$ 151.35 million for 1,743 rooms, Jaffna attracted eight hotel projects at US$ 24.1 million for 298 rooms while Batticaloa got 18 projects worth US$ 43 million for 606 rooms. Trincomalee attracted 16 tourism development projects worth 77 million for 794 rooms while Ampara got two projects at US$ 6.26 million for 45 rooms.
The Western province attracted 58 projects worth US$ 1.17 billion for 6,374 rooms, led by Colombo, which attracted 27 projects worth US$ 903.8 million for 3,941 rooms, Kalutara 19 hotels worth US$ 86 million for 921 rooms and Gampaha got 12 hotels worth 179.8 million for 1512 rooms.
The Southern province attracted 47 development projects worth US$ 358.6 million for 2285 rooms, Galle attracted 28 hotels worth US$ 139.6 million for 1417 rooms, Hambantota 15 projects US$ 189 million for 720 rooms and Matara four projects worth US$ 30 million for 148 rooms.
Central Province attracted 21 projects worth US$ 102.5 million for a golf resort and 660 rooms, Badulla attracted a golf resort worth US$ 25.5 million, Kandy attracted seven hotels worth US$ 13.2 million for 176 rooms, Matale eight projects at US$ 46.1 million for 302 rooms and Nuwara-Eliya received five projects worth US$ 16.7 million for 182 rooms.
Other districts received 15 projects worth US$ 78.9 million for 747 rooms, headed by Puttalam with 11 projects worth US$ 76.96 million for 659 rooms, Anuradpura three projects at US$ 1.38 million for 55 rooms and Polonnaruwa one hotel worth US$ 630,000 for 33 rooms.