Unlocking new opportunities for potential partnerships

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Updated 03 February 2016
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Unlocking new opportunities for potential partnerships

COLOMBO: The Sri Lanka Investment and Business Conclave 2016 is scheduled to take place from March 8 to 10 at the Cinnamon Grand Colombo.

The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce in association with the Ministry of Development Strategies and International Trade, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Board of Investment of Sri Lanka, Department of Commerce, Sri Lanka Export Development Board, Sri Lanka Convention Bureau (SLCB) and the Commonwealth Businesswomen’s Network will be organizing the event.
The conclave offers the perfect blend of opportunities aimed at enriching institutional, corporate and individual investors and business houses with a comprehensive set of guidelines for their investment decisions, and act as a networking opportunity for introductions to potential overseas business partners with a view of establishing partnerships/investments in Sri Lanka.
The conclave will be promoted with the support of the Sri Lanka High Commissions/embassies located overseas and 120 Chambers of Commerce around the world.
The Sri Lanka Investment and Business Conclave 2016 will be inaugurated on March 8 followed by a strategic networking event, facilitating participants to directly network with senior ministers and officials attached to various Government Institutions in addition to participants from various other countries.
On March 9, there will be two high level panel discussions on Unlocking New Opportunities for Potential Partnerships and Strategies of Attracting Business Partnerships and Investments in Sri Lanka — followed by B2B and G2B business matchmaking sessions.
On March 10, organizers will facilitate overseas delegates to visit export processing zones, port of Colombo and the Colombo Stock Exchange etc. as per their interest.
Investments for the private sector including foreign companies is set to become easier in 2016 as the Board of Investment (BOI) plans a host of new methods including public — private partnerships for dozens of investment zones, reforms and liberalising land ownership.
The government of Sri Lanka is targeting 45 economic zones to be developed with private sector partnerships.
The BOI will provide land and the investors have to build infrastructure facilities, which will be done under a special joint venture project vehicle to attract investment.
The major sectors that received FDI in 2015 were manufacturing at $199 million, followed by tourism at $161 million, housing and property development with $116 million, telecommunications at $93 million and port development activities with $ 51 million.
Major FDI sourcing countries include Hong Kong $167 million, Mauritius $76 million, Netherlands $69 million and China $66 million as per the data received from the BOI.
Sri Lanka has invested heavily to develop infrastructure such as port, road network, additional airports and telecommunication facilities in recent times.
With the educated and adaptable workforce and fast developing Infrastructure, it has become a growing economic hub with favorable policies for investors around the world.
In addition, new urbanization initiatives with new opportunities for investment have open doors for potential investors to set up joint ventures in Sri Lanka.
It boasts for being one of the lowest corporate tax rates in the region including strong policies in place for protecting international investors and business partners ensuring high quality of life for foreign investors.
The recently announced Budget 2016 of the government of Sri Lanka, many attractive facilities will be provided to investors to setup joint ventures in Sri Lanka.
Changed policies and regulations will be announced and discussed at the panel discussions of the senior ministers of the government of Sri Lanka on the second day of the event on March 9.
Focus sectors for investment includes agriculture, apparel, education, export manufacturing, export services, infrastructure, knowledge services, tourism and leisure, power and energy, telecommunications and related services, ports development, distribution of petroleum related products such as LPG and LNG and recycling of waste etc.
Invest-srilanka.lk web site was launched recently to promote the event among foreign and local potential parties.
Further details available on Tel. +9411-5588818 or +9411-5588800

Fax. +94-112449352 or +9411-2381012
E-mail: [email protected]


How ‘Absher’ app liberates Saudis from government bureaucracy

The Absher website also provides information on how to report wanted persons, or administrative or financial corruption. (Supplied)
Updated 17 February 2019
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How ‘Absher’ app liberates Saudis from government bureaucracy

  • Western media mistaken in portraying app as a tool of repression, leading female journalist says

JEDDAH: Absher, the “one-click” e-services app launched by the Interior Ministry in 2015, is now regarded as the leading government platform for Saudi citizens, freeing them from bureaucratic inefficiency and endless queuing for everyday services.
However, in a recent New York Times article, the app was criticized as a “tool of repression” following claims by Democratic Senator Ron Wyden and women’s rights groups.
Apple and Google were urged to remove the application from their devices over claims that it “enables abhorrent surveillance and control of women.”
In an official statement, the ministry rejected the allegations and said the Absher platform centralized more than 160 different services for all members of society, including women, the elderly and people with special needs.
The app makes electronic government services available for beneficiaries to access directly at any time and from any place in the Kingdom, the ministry said.
Absher allows residents of the Kingdom to make appointments, renew IDs, passports, driver’s licenses, car registration and other services with one click.
Many Saudis still recall having to queue at government agencies, such as passport control offices and civil affairs departments, for a variety of official procedures. Appointments could take weeks to arrange, with people relying on their green files, or “malaf allagi” — the 1980s and 1990s paper form of Absher that was known as the citizen’s “lifeline,” both figuratively and literally.
Hours would be spent as government departments ferried files back and forth, and if a form was lost, the whole transaction process would have to start again. As complicated as it was for men, women suffered more.
Muna Abu Sulayman, an award-winning strategy adviser and media personality, told Arab News the introduction of Absher had helped strengthen women’s rights.
Sulayman said she was disappointed at comments on the e-services platform being made abroad. “There are consequences that people don’t understand. It’s a very idealistic and naive way of understanding what is going on,” she said.
“The discussion on the guardianship law is internal and ongoing — it is something that has to be decided by our society and not as a result of outside pressure. We’re making strides toward equality and Absher is a step in the right direction,” she said.
“In a Twitter survey, I asked how many women have access to their guardian’s Absher. Most answered that they control their own fate. Men who don’t believe in controlling women gave them access to their Absher and that shows an increase in the participation of women in their own decision-making.”
Absher also provides services such as e-forms, dealing with Hajj eligibility, passport control, civil affairs, public services, traffic control, and medical appointments at government hospitals.
The platform is available to all men and women, and removes much of the bureaucracy and time wasting associated with nonautomated administrative systems.
On the issue of granting women travel permits, the law requires a male guardian to grant it through the portal, as well as for men under the age of 21.
Retired King Abdullah University professor Dr. Zainab M. Zain told Arab News: “I always had issues with my passport renewal as well as my children’s as they are both non-Saudi. For years it was risky not to follow up properly at passport control — you never knew what could happen, but now I can renew their permits by paying their fees online through Absher from the comfort of my home in Abu Dhabi.”
Ehsanul Haque, a Pakistani engineer who has lived in the Kingdom for more than 30 years, said: “Absher has helped tremendously with requests, such as exit and entry visas for my family and myself. I can receive approval within an hour whereas once it would’ve taken me days,” he said.
“The platform has eased many of my troubles.”
The Absher website also provides information on how to report wanted persons, or administrative or financial corruption.
In April, 2018, the ministry launched “Absher Business,” a technical initiative to transfer its business services to an interactive digital system.
With an annual fee of SR2,000 ($533), business owners such as Marwan Bukhary, owner of Gold Sushi Club Restaurant in Jeddah, used the portal to help manage his workers’ needs in his expanding business.
“There are many features in Absher that helps both individual and establishment owners,” he said. “I took advantage of the great features it provided, and it saved me a lot of time and trouble and also my restaurant workers. It’s a dramatic change. When Absher Business was launched last year, it organized how I needed to manage my workers’ work permits.
“Through the system, I could see the status of all my employees, renew their permits, grant their exit and entry visas, and have their permits delivered to my house or my business through the post after paying the fees. It saved business owners a lot of time and energy.
“I used to have to do everything manually myself or have my courier help. I believe it’s the government’s most advanced system yet with more features being added every now and then,” Bukhary said.
“Absher has eased our burden, unlike the old days when we needed to visit government offices and it would take four weeks just to get an appointment. One click is all it takes now.”