Sri Lanka’s state-run investment promotion agency, the Board of Investment (BOI), yesterday renewed its attempt to streamline the approval process with the launch of a new one-stop shop.
The BOI launched an Investor Facilitation Centre (IFC) to speed up the process of firming up investments coming into the country, so that the economy is able to secure the much-needed forex.
The facility is located on the 27th floor of the World Trade Centre’s West Tower and aims to provide an efficient service to investors while streamlining the investment approval process and strengthening inter-agency coordination.
A similar facility was launched in 2016 by the BOI to make the investment process hassle-free. However, the effort did not deliver the expected results, thus the establishment of a fresh facility.
The overall objective is to complete the investment approval process within 14 days. According to the BOI, at present, over 170 days are required for all investment processes to be completed.
“There are several delays for investors to obtain the necessary approvals at present, largely due to several agencies involved. With the new IFC, we hope to address the prevailing gaps. If there is a delay in documents moving from one desk to another, the IFC will take the necessary action to make them move, so that the investors are able to get what they want,” said Investment Promotion State Minister Dilum Amunugama addressing the launch event in Colombo yesterday.
While one of the major impediments identified in attracting and retaining FDI to Sri Lanka is red tape in the way of investors, poor inter-agency coordination is also a key reason for the slow process.
“The BOI alone cannot do this. The IFC alone will not solve problems. The line agencies need to coordinate and be dedicated towards these efforts as well. Much of the delays are due to what takes place at line agencies,” said BOI Chairman Raja Edirisuriya.
The IFC consists of four units: Information Desk, Application Submission Desk, Inter-Agency Coordinating Committee (IACC) and Operational Units (OUS – Investment Inter-Agency Engineering Approvals, Environment and Legal Departments).
The IFC features meeting online rooms, information and application submission desks with a modern business facilitation centre.
It also has a system to assess the performance to compare the efficiency of the process in obtaining line agency approvals while it has a mechanism to receive feedback from investors on the service provided, the BOI said.
The IFC is part of the digitisation process of the BOI, where all information on potential investors will be digitally stored in the management information system.
The IFC is also merged with the newly established ‘Partnership Finder’ database system, so that the investors can find new equity and technology partners for their businesses.