At a formal ceremony held on 30th May 2018 at the Cinnamon Grand Hotel, Colombo, the Board of Investment of Sri Lanka signed a Memorandum of Understanding to set up a Single Window Investment Facilitation Taskforce (SWIFT) with 6 State regulatory agencies.
The agencies in question are the Department of Registrar of Companies (ROC), Department of Inland Revenue (IRD), Central Environment Authority (CEA), Colombo Municipal Council (CMC), Urban Development Authority (UDA) and Sri Lanka Customs (SLC). This was phase I of the establishment of the SWIFT. Under phase II of the implementation process, SWIFT will be signing agreements with 19 more State Agencies which will include the following:
Sri Lanka Tourism Development authority (SLTDA), Geological Survey & Mines Bureau, Department of Immigration & Emigration, Municipal Council / Local Authorities, Dept. of Coast Conservation, Disaster Management Centre, Ministry of Agriculture, Mahaweli Development Authority of Sri Lanka, Land Commissioner General’s Department, Department of forest Conversation, Sri Lanka Land Reclamation and Development Corporation, Development of Wildlife, Ceylon Electricity Board, National Water Supply & Drainage Board, Ministry of Finance /Treasury, Ministry of Defense, Attorney General’s Department, Department of Import & Export Control and National Dangerous Drug Control Board.
At the launch of SWIFT the Memorandum of Understanding was signed by Mr. Duminda Ariyasinghe, Director General of the BOI with the representatives of the 6 agencies.
The speakers present at the event were Hon. Malik Samarawickrama, Minister of Development Strategies & International Trade, Hon. Sujeewa Senasinghe, Minister of International Trade, Mr. Dumindra Ratnayake, Chairman of the BOI, Mr. Duminda Ariyasinghe, Director General of the BOI.
The purpose of SWIFT is to fasttrack investments through a virtual one stop shop. The concept of the One Stop Shop has been existence for a very long time but has traditionally relied on the presence of officers of other agencies assigned to the BOI One Stop Shop, to help to facilitate projects. However, due to other factors it is sometimes difficult to obtain the participation of representatives from the relevant line agencies, whose additional approval are needed for a project to be started.
In the current system which was approved under a Cabinet Memorandum issued by the Cabinet of Ministers of Sri Lanka, all agencies that are party to the MOU are connected through an online connection which makes it possible to act on a project proposal without the requirement of being physically present at the BOI’s One Stop Shop.
This is particularly important since some projects may require up to 14 approvals or permits and any investor who would have to physically go to all these Ministries would deterred by the excessive bureaucracy involved.
Advances in the field of IT have made it possibly to create a Central Authority without necessitating the presence of officials at a dedicated office.
The BOI therefore is confident that the development implementation of SWIFT would encourage investors to invest in Sri Lanka as the process is considerably simplified and the new system would also provide greater information and additionally be much more transparent.
The system will function under an advisory committee that will monitor performance of the system, examine complaints and act on feedback received from investors and also intervene whenever bottlenecks and delays arise. The Advisory Committee will also make recommendation on the system in order to introduce further improvements.
In the course of time the Advisory Committee can also recommend the inclusion of additional agencies of the Government into SWIFT.
The introduction of this new system will facilitate considerably the process of investing Sri Lanka. Furthermore it utilizes cutting edge technology and promote the establishment of an investor friendly environment. It will contribute towards the country achieving the targeted FDI inflows of US$ 2.1billion by the end of 2018.
Dilip S Samarasinghe
Director (Media & Publicity)