Lanka eyes Qatari investment
DOHA SRI LANKA looks forward to investment from Qatar in infrastructure, tourism and banking sectors even as its economy is set for an 8 percent growth in 2012, Governor of Central Bank of Sri Lanka Ajith Nivard Cabraal has said.
Speaking to Qatar Tribune, on Monday, Cabraal said, “After the end of the 30-year conflict in 2009, there has been a lot of interest in our country from the outside world, and Qatar is on top of our list as a potential investment partner.” He said his country has identified a few priority areas for investments and Qatar with its financial might can take advantage of the opportunities.
“We will be meeting Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) officials over a couple of days and put forward investment proposals to them. We are seeking investments mainly in tourism and infrastructure, though opportunities exist in the other sectors as well,” Cabraal said.
Commenting on the banking sector in Sri Lanka, Cabraal said all banks in the country were well capitalised. He said the banks have a capital adequacy of 14 percent, which is well above the 10 percent benchmark set by the central bank.
“We plan to meet about 13 banks and other investors on Tuesday. Sri Lankan banks based on the tier one capital can successfully engage the Qatari banks to attract tier two capital,” the central bank governor said.
Asked if Sri Lankan banks have any plans to have operations in Qatar, Cabraal said they (banks) can first look into exchange houses as there are about 100,000 Sri Lankans working in Qatar.
He said foreign remittance to Sri Lanka in 2011 was about $5.2 billion, and it expects it to reach $6.5 billion in 2012, which would be about 8.5 percent of the GDP On investments in the tourism and infrastructure sectors, Cabraal said there are plans to develop Sri Lanka into a tourism hub.
“We are looking at having 2.5 million visitors annually coming to Sri Lanka by 2016 and this creates investment avenues in the hotel industry, infrastructure sector etc,” he remarked.
Qatar and Sri Lanka had signed a number of agreements during the visit of the Emir His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani earlier this year.
The agreements signed included bilateral trade and technical cooperation, cultural cooperation, and legal cooperation.
Besides this, memorandums of understanding (MoU) on tourism, education, higher education, and scientific research were also signed between the two governments.
Moreover, MoUs on civil aviation, setting up of a joint committee between Qatar and Sri Lanka as well as a MoU on bilateral investment between Qatar Holding and the Board of Investment of Sri Lanka were also signed.