‘Expat Tamils returned with funds but left due to red tape’ Many even bought land in the North
by Zacki Jabbar recently in Jaffna
Some members of the Tamil diaspora had come in their numbers with enough funds to invest in the North, following the end of the war, but the unprecedented red tape had resulted in them making a hasty retreat, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Yarlpanam (CCIY) said.
Asked by The Island why the Tamil diaspora was not making big investments in the North of Sri Lanka though the war had ended nearly six years ago, the President of the CCIY , K. Vignesh replied that many rich Tamil businessmen domiciled abroad had returned with high hopes of investing in their motherland shortly after May 2009.
Many of them had even bought land in the Northern Province, but it did not take them long to realise that the necessary approval for investments was not forthcoming, he noted adding “They were driven from pillar to post. Being accustomed to the ease with which business was done in their adopted countries, they left in frustration.”
Vignesh’s revelation came during a meeting between an eight member delegation of southern vegetable and fruit exporters headed by the President of the National Chamber of Exporters (NCE) Sarada de Silva and the CCIY in Jaffna recently.
“With the change of government we are trying to persuade the members Tamil Diaspora to return and invest in their land of birth so that the Northern people who had suffered immensely during a three decade war can look forward to a better future,” he noted.
Vignesh said another serious drawback was the lack of researched material on investment opportunities in the North. “We have to start from scratch and are hoping that the government would help us in this regard.”
The leisure sector also had immense potential and with the necessary assistance from the Center, the North could be developed into a major tourist attraction, he observed.
Sarada de Silva explained to the CCIY that the NCE had undertaken the visit to Puliyankulam and Jaffna with a view to purchasing the required raw materials for their businesses from the Northern farmer.
“We are not here to acquire land but buy vegetables and fruits and if possible fish products for export purposes. There is a Central Bank guarantee on such joint ventures which needs to be taken advantage of,” he pointed out.
The programme came under an initiative of the National Chamber of Exporters (NCE) in collaboration with the Local Empowerment for Economic Development (LEED) project of the International Labour Organization (ILO) to establish linkages between exporters in the South with producers in the North aimed at livelihood and economic development.
The visiting Southern Exporters and the CCIY discussed a range of available opportunities and possibilities, which they resolved could be pursued through the good offices of the NCE.
The NCE is the only private sector Chamber assisting Sri Lankan exporters. It has a membership of over 450 companies across all products.