Business

Railway project not approved due to lack of documentation: BOI

The Board of Investment of Sri Lanka refers to the recent article published in one of the leading weekend newspapers covering a proposed Railway project that was not yet approved due to the investor failing to submit the required information to the BOI to obtain the clearance of the Single Window Investment Approval Committee (SWIAC). SWIAC was established by the Government to grant approvals for this type of large scale investment projects.

The article makes a series of allegations relating to the project, naming several leading political figures and senior officials of the BOI. The application is for a project that was allegedly blocked in the article due to corruption.

However the real reason that the project is not yet approved, was because the investor failed to provide BOI with important documents such as past project reports, financial credentials and proof that the company has the right technical capabilities to handle a project of that magnitude.

This project proposal was discussed at the SWIAC several times chaired by Dr R H S Samaratunga, the Secretary to the Ministry of Finance. On 10.11.2017, this proposal was taken up again at the SWIAC with the participation of the investor’s representatives. As the SWIAC ruled that the project proposal did not include comprehensive information, BOI was instructed by SWIAC to issue a letter informing the company that they need to submit the required documentation. The information has not yet been fully submitted.

The company in question also requested tax holidays which could not be accommodated under the present laws. To satisfy this potential investor Sri Lanka would have had change the current legislation covering investments.

The company also requested for the project, the transfer of 4000 acres of land including 2000 acres of State land and also wanted to set up a private bank, in addition to setting up a university inside the factory premises. Furthermore the company wanted to develop the Muthurajawela jetty which necessitated an additional 600 acres of State land. They also wanted to build super luxury hotels with liquor licenses in each of their industrial zones to be set up.

However their failure to provide details such as proof of their past experiences in building such projects, their financial credentials and technical know-how made it impossible for BOI to approve a project that required handing over thousands of acres of state lands with no proof that it could be finalized. This information is what is normally requested from investors who apply to start projects.

Therefore, the BOI categorically refutes the allegations that were made and wishes to point out that at all stages the project was handled transparently and professionally, consistent with its role as a facilitator of projects that benefit the country.