The Cabinet Sub-Committee on Economic Management headed by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe endorsed the Bill, before the Cabinet approval.
Strategic Development and International Trade Minister Malik Samarawickrema addressing a press conference at his Ministry premises in Colombo yesterday said the Prime Minister would hold a special meeting with all Chief Ministers on Friday to clear their doubts and discuss the implementation of the provisions in the Bill. The minister also said President Maithripala Sirisena was also in agreement with the provisions in the new Bill.
He said the Bill would be presented to Parliament in February. Replying to questions by journalists, the minister however completely rejected the speculations that the Bill would pave way for a “super minister”.
“Nobody in this Government wants to be a super minister, nor are we going to create one. We have seen the repercussions of creating super ministers by the previous Government. This Bill is to provide easy access and facilities for the investors by processing their investment proposals by one centre,” he said.
“Over the past years the average Foreign Direct Investments received by the country annually did not exceed USD 800 million whereas this amount in Myanmar was over USD 6.8 billion. Myanmar has a ‘one stop’ agency to process the investments coming into the country. We want to put up a similar mechanism. The BOI would be the implementing agency” he said. He said innovative thinking is necessary to take the country forward, adding that the private sector participation is essential to develop the economy. Responding to a question by a journalist on the provisions in the Bill giving legal immunity to the officers attached to the new body to be set up, the minister clarified the said legal immunity does not cover fraud and corruption.
“Anybody can go to court over such allegations. Our intention in this move is clear. We want to make a real change and take the country forward,” he said.