Sri Lanka struggles to attract foreign investment, hindered by land access issues, while regional peers excel in industrial development.
Sri Lanka's FDI Challenge and Land Access
- Comparative FDI Records: Sri Lanka lags behind in attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) compared to East Asian and Southeast Asian peers.
- Land Access Bottleneck: Difficulty in obtaining land has been a major obstacle for investors in Sri Lanka, hindering industrial growth.
- Efficiency of Export Processing Zones (EPZs): EPZs in East Asian countries offer pre-allocated land, reliable utilities, and streamlined services, a model Sri Lanka initially followed.
- Lack of New EPZs: Sri Lanka has failed to invest in new EPZs since 2002, despite acknowledging the issue.
- Unfulfilled Promises: Government made pledges to establish EPZs, but progress remains stagnant, as seen in budget speeches.
- Wasted Public Funds: Inadequate planning led to infrastructure spending without completing land acquisition, causing financial losses.
- Comparative Land Conversion Efforts: Neighboring countries have outpaced Sri Lanka in converting available land to industrial use.
- Shift in Global Supply Chains: Emerging opportunities in South and Southeast Asia for export-oriented FDI require addressing key bottlenecks.
- Call for Action in Budget Speech: The Finance Minister must move beyond promises and focus on concrete action for growth.