A diaspora worth more than US$ 35 billion prevented from investing in SL

download (3)Mario Andree, reporting from Jaffna

Land issues preventing Diaspora from investing in SL

Ceylon Finance Today: Many expatriates who are already in Sri Lanka raised land issues claiming that the diaspora who was interested to invest in the country looked away due to being unable to purchase land.

A businessman, an expatriate, who has invested in a hotel project in Jaffna, said that there were land right issues in the country which did not allow the diaspora to purchase land due to the decision taken in 2010. Highlighting the opportunities available for Sri Lanka to capture the US$ 35 billion diaspora, he told Minister of Investment Promotion Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena that many interested expatriates looked away due to being unable to purchase land. He requested the Minister to intervene and resolve the land issues or to support diaspora to obtain dual citizenship to purchase land.

According to the investor, many diaspora were interested to sell their properties abroad to invest and settle back in Sri Lanka.
To attract them the government should allow purchasing land, as they would require to own a land.
The minister, pleased to learn of the interest of expatriates to return to the county with investment, said that the government as a policy decision in 2010 decide not to sell land to foreigners. 

However, he said those who are interested could invest in Sri Lanka through 99 year lease of land, and promised that he would look into other possibilities.
According to a senior economist, there is a diaspora worth more than US$ 35 billion, which has not been tapped by the government to improve foreign direct investment. 

Sri Lanka so far has received more than US$ 1 billion through FDI, on the way to reaching US$ 2 billion by end this year.
The country failed to achieve the last two years FDI target, falling short US$ 160 million in 2012 and US$ 610 million in 2013 to achieve US$ 1.5 billion and US$ 2 billion respectively.
The country’s investment promotion agency, Board of Investment revised this year’s target to US$ 2 billion from US$ 2.5 billion considering the failure during the last two years.