BOI Single Window has approved less than 50% of investment proposals

· Around 90% of overall proposals approved
· Investors mainly from Asian economic powerhouses
· Approval within a maximum of 10 days

By Heshan De Silva
The Single Window Panel of the Board of Investment (BOI) of Sri Lanka has received 54 investment proposals since its inception in late 2016, with 26 of them approved and 14 rejected.
Speaking to The Sunday Morning Business, BOI Investment Appraisal Department Director of Investment Ranjan Sigera revealed that the proposals have been primarily from Asian economic powerhouses such as Singapore, India, Malaysia, and China.
He added that five proposals have been deferred pending further information and documentation from the investor.
“Out of those five pending projects, for three projects, we have already done the ground work and they will be approved very soon,” Sigera added.
The BOI on Friday stated that it has deferred approval of a high-speed railway manufacturing project proposal owing to delays in receiving a detailed business plan and a funding plan. The initial investment of the project was to be 488 million euros while it would have gone up to 2.2 billion euros upon completion.
Sigera added that nine projects, which are not compatible with government policy, have been escalated to allow policy changes to take place.
“Somehow, complicated projects are supposed to be transferred to Single Window Panel. So far we held 31 meetings to discuss the 54 projects,” he said.
BOI uses the ‘McKenzie Template’ computer system to categorise investment proposals. The McKenzie Template indicates four categories – approved, rejected, differed, and escalated. Differed projects are those in which the investor is yet to provide vital information regarding the project. Those proposals signed as differed could be resubmitted to the BOI.
Out of the 26 projects approved by the Single Window Panel, 14 are manufacturing projects, five are utilities and services projects, four are infrastructure projects, and three are agricultural projects.
Since October, 2016, the BOI has received 200 investment proposals overall, with 20% of them sent to the Single Window Panel. In 177 of these 200 project proposals, all the processing fees have been settled by the investors.
Sigera stated that around 90% of these proposals have been approved and that applications are processed within 10 days.
“Within a maximum of 10 days, we can tell whether the proposal has been approved or not. After the screening committee and the proposal being approved, we provide the acknowledgement letter and then we issue the letter of approval.”
The approval process for investment proposals operate under the guidance of a committee called the screening committee. This committee will be gathering weekly to evaluate new project proposals. While the Single Window Panel evaluates large scale projects, there is another committee called the Single Window Investment Appraisal Committee (SWIAC) for further policy reformations, especially to manipulate government policy issues that affect investment proposals.
BOI companies today employ over 470,000 workers and account for nearly 65% of Sri Lankan exports and 86% of the country’s industrial exports.