Matrade: Vast infrastructure investment potential in Sri Lanka

NEW DELHI: Malaysia, a top investor in Sri Lanka, should capitalise on emerging opportunities in the island’s booming construction sector which was readily opening up for foreign companies, said a top trade official.

VAST POTENTIAL: A view of the infrastructure in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Mohamad Kamaruddin is of the opinion that the ‘investor-friendly’ environment promoted by the Sri Lankan government should be conducive for Malaysian investors. — Photo by localyte.com.

Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (Matrade) deputy chief executive Datuk Mohamad Kamarudin Hassan said the ‘investor-friendly’ environment promoted by the Sri Lankan government was conducive for Malaysian investors.

“The government is very investor-friendly.

“The infrastructure sector is growing since the war ended.

“We are upbeat of the growth and it is the right time for Malaysian companies to invest (in Sri Lanka),” he told Bernama in an interview from Colombo.

Malaysia emerged the largest foreign investor in Sri Lanka for the fourth consecutive year in 2009, with 18 Malaysian commercial projects estimated at RM3.2 billion (US$910 million).

The country’s central bank forecast its economy to grow by eight per cent in 2011, thus opening up ample infrastructure development prospects, especially in the former war-ravaged northern and eastern regions.

The island’s bureaucrats are quickly shaping up the economy, since the end of the civil war in May 2009, revising its corporate tax from 35 per cent to 28 per cent and slashing lending rates to attract foreign capital to pump-prime economic growth.

There is a surge in demand for new highways, hospitals, housing and schools, mostly left impoverished due to the prolonged conflict, but now needed to support the fast-propelling US$42 billion-size economy (RM126 billion).

Kamarudin led a three-day marketing mission to Sri Lanka, supported by the Malaysian High Commission in Colombo, from December 14 to 16, largely targeting the professional and construction services sector.

“Investor confidence is there and we are upbeat about the sector’s growth because the country still lacks infrastructure like resorts, hotels and highways,” he said.

Malaysia-Sri Lanka two-way trade tipped US$424 million (RM1.27 billion) last year while figures crossed the US$415 million (RM1.24 billion) mark between January and October this year. — Bernama

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