In an ambitious move to-wards self-reliance. Sri Lanka is to attract foreign investors for import substitution projects offering them tax concessions under the Board of Investment of Sri Lanka (BOI).

Investment Promotion Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardene told that the aim of introducing this strategic scheme is to produce necessary items locally without importing it by spending massive sums of foreign exchange.

Local investors will also be encouraged to start import substitution joint ventures with foreign Investors and such ventures will also be allowed to export their products while meeting the local demand for the next five years.

A meeting with local investors will be convened to work out modalities of this initiative soon, he disclosed.

The Ministry of Finance has suggested introducing an import substitution programme to fix the problem of a gaping trade deficit.

As an initial step a survey is being carried out to forecast the requirement of building materials for mega projects that will commence construction during the next three years.

The aim is to encourage production of cement, iron, furniture, wire, aluminum, and tiles, sanitary fittings, lifts, timber doors. Glass, pantry cupboards, ceiling materials, building management systems, pains water pumps, hand rails and water proof materials among other material.

Outlining the progress of the BOI, he said that Sri Lanka received US$442 million in Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) during the first quarter of this year recording a 100 per cent increase compared with $219 million FDI in the same period last year. Minister Abeywardene noted that Sri Lanka will be able to achieve its $2 billion target for this year with the signing of 38 foreign investment projects during the first three months and the realizing of $1 billion from 17 identified strategic investment projects.

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