Demands for bribes made Sri Lanka lose investments under former regime

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka lost important foreign investments because of demands for bribes by officials linked to senior figures of the former Rajapaksa regime, the head of the investment promotion agency said.

“One investor said ‘adios’ when an upfront bribe was demanded for 25 million dollars,” said Upul Jayasuriya, chairman of the Board of Investment.

He said a “very respected senior architect” had described the demand for the bribe from the investor who came to Sri Lanka to put up a mixed developed project valued at several hundred million dollars in the Jawatte area of Colombo.

“There was the son of a VIP and the son of a VVIP – you have to get through these two officers,” he said.

“We have brought an end to this era – that’s no more,” he told a forum organized by the Sri Lanka – Germany Business Council of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce.

“I tell every investor now that their cost is only the investment you’re making and nothing beyond it.”

Under the former regime, whose officials are being investigated for corruption, the BOI functions were taken over by the Treasury.

Jayasuriya said the former regime introduced measures where every BOI board decision was issued by the Treasury.

The BOI’s decision making authority had taken away by the Treasury.

“Investors understood we were stifled. We were not allow to take decisions we ought to take,” Jayasuriya said.

“This led to a complete break down of the facilitation function of the BOI. We were confined to assume the role of regulatory functions.”
(Colombo/October 19 2015)