According to the Gulf Times, the Minister, who was on a two-day visit to Qatar, said he had held discussions on investment prospects in his country with Qatar Minister for Finance HE Ali Sherif al-Emadi.
“While apprising the Qatar Minister of the areas where Sri Lanka is looking for foreign investments, we gave him a picture of the current economic position of our country and also the sectors where investments could fetch good returns,” Senaratne explained.
The Sri Lankan Minister said he also spoke to the Qatar Minister on the prospects of attracting investments to his country’s power sector. “We have some ambitious plans as well to capitalise on our favourable weather conditions to develop solar and wind energy projects to meet the growing power requirements.”
The Minister said Sri Lanka hopes there is a scope for developing tourism and other projects in one of its islands, where adequate land is available for investors. “Unlike what it used to be, in Sri Lanka, we are processing the papers for investments fast these days,” he said.
“With an eye on tapping foreign investments, we have waived off tax imposed by the previous government on investors so that they could enjoy more benefits from their investments made in Sri Lanka,” the Minister said, adding their Government is also keen on developing the physical infrastructure of its drugs and pharmaceutical sectors.
“We have made this proposal to the local authorities in Qatar, citing the advantages Sri Lanka had from the free trade agreement (FTA) with India. The investors are expected to gain significantly from the investments in pharmaceutical and drugs in such conditions,” he said. The Minister said their studies have found the market is guaranteed for the medicines manufactured as part of the FTA with India.
Senaratne also said his country is working to bolster its E-Health programme and already 40 hospitals across Sri Lanka have been brought under the mission.
“Now, we are exploring the possibility to attract foreign investments, including those from Qatar, to bring 150 more hospitals under the E-Health programme. “Currently only 1.8% of the GDP is earmarked for health but efforts are on to make it a minimum of 3%.”
Sri Lanka, he said, is also looking forward to foreign capital for building more state-of-the-art hospitals after memorandums were signed with Germany and Austria to develop advanced centres for nephrology and heart transplantation.
The Minister said efforts are underway in Sri Lanka to develop further treatment methods such as ayurveda, chinese and homeopathy with an eye on attracting more visitors from across the world. “We require foreign participation for their further development.”
Similar foreign investments are also sought to develop a photo-dynamic therapy centre of international standards to treat such illnesses as cancer, he said.
The Minister also explored the possibility of seeking Qatar Red Crescent assistance, including mobile dialysis machines, to providing treatment for those suffering from renal diseases in some parts of his country. (Colombo Gazette)