Business Times

Hambantota gets down to business

By Sunimalee Dias

Hambantota will host its second investor forum as time is right to be open for business, the regional chamber chief Azmi Thassim said. The first forum was held in 1995 but with the infrastructure in place right now, Mr. Thassim from the Hambantota District Chamber of Commerce (HDCC) said in conversation with the Business Times it is the right time to hold an investment forum on the theme “Invest In Hambantota – Investment Forum 2011” scheduled for July 23 at the Hotel Eva Lanka, Unakuruwa, Tangalle.

With the objective of creating increased awareness among local, national and overseas investors of the potential in the district the event organized by the HDCC will create the platform for private-public-partnership to get maximum benefits from the current ongoing development projects.

He noted that they will be having about 50 large local companies participating at the event along with about 10 international investors from Singapore, Malaysia, India and the UK. Currently they are attempting to encourage more participation at the half-a-day forum that will be followed by a conducted tour of the development projects in the evening.

Mr. Thassim noted there is a lot of interest generated among investors with a number of them planning on buying large amounts of land available in the area at prices in the range of Rs.500,000 to Rs.2 million per acre while prime land along the beach is selling at Rs.100,000 per perch.

While travel to the district will ideally take about five hours it is expected to come down to about three hours once the Southern Expressway opens up next year, he said. Meanwhile, the chamber wants to ensure that those in the region are benefited from these development projects through subcontracting opportunities that is believed could be commenced through the grouping for a establishment of a consortium with the assistance of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (CCC).

CCC chief Anura Ekanayaka speaking at the press conference said the main business and economic reason for this forum’s success is its value chain involved. He noted that regional development is not charity and this forum is essential for the socio political development of the country and proper sound integration of culture.

Commending the HDCC, Mr. Ekanayaka termed it as a “trendsetter” for regional chambers that could be emulated by others in a bid to ensure similar types of development takes place in their respective regions. The forum is expected to attract international and national, potential and existing investors, chairmen, CEOs, Directors and Managers of companies and senior government officials.

It will provide a unique opportunity to explore investment opportunities; learn the status of ongoing development projects; witness major development activities; and interact and network.

The forum will be addressed by HDCC’s Azmi Thassim, Central Bank Director Statistics D. Wasantha, Urban Development Authority Chairman Janaka Kurukulasuriya, Sri Lanka Ports Authority Chairman Dr. Priyath Bandu Wickrama, Airport and Aviation Services Chairman Prasanna Wickramasuriya, with a panel discussion chaired by Sri Lanka Tourism Chairman Dr. Nalaka Godahewa.

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