The impeachment of the former Chief Justice, the taking over of the underperforming companies by the government, matters dealing with land ownership and lackadaisical legal system are seen as ‘threats’ by the UK investors to doing business in Sri Lanka, Deputy British High Commissioner in Colombo, Robbie Buloch, said in an exclusive interview with Ceylon Today. “This is the reason why there is no UK businesses flooding Sri Lanka as expected after the war,” he added.
He also said, while the development of the physical structure of Sri Lanka is commendable, the UK business community considers the lackadaisical legal system in Sri Lanka a ‘threat’ when
doing business in Sri Lanka. “There are some small-scale British investors, who have established themselves for a long time here, and also there are a few others wanting to do business but they have many ‘fears.’
“Actually, the investors are not so sure about the business climate. They are looking for options, but these negative points have not been ‘cleared.’ The British High Commission, however, has been supportive by exposing the business climate, but the ‘uncertainty’ is still prevailing,” he said, adding the negative points have given the impression that everything is not good over here in Sri Lanka although he understands the market.
He also stressed, “There were many years of internal conflict, and there are some things that need to be appreciated about this government. However, for the last few years Sri Lanka has been ‘difficult’ with the international community. Sri Lanka should not isolate herself from the rest of the nations, if they want to attract investment and tourists.”
He also commended the strong trade ties Sri Lanka has with China.
Speaking about the alleged war crimes, he said, “The UK is aware of the war crimes accountability, and there are ‘concerns’ about press freedom and issues with the NGOs, which are not highlighted. The visiting parliamentary delegation has picked a lot of positive remarks and I think they are happy with the physical reconstruction work for sure.” The Deputy High Commissioner commenting on the six-member UK Parliamentary delegation that arrived last week, said “We wanted them to have a balanced programme when they were here. They were very impressed about the development of Sri Lanka. However, it was a little disappointment when the President and the Defence Secretary could not meet them.
“Even when it comes to Khuram Shaikh’s murder trial, the slow progress of the case has been highly criticized in the UK. Initially, Sri Lanka’s assurance to conduct the murder trial was welcomed, but all of a sudden it played very low. UK MP Simon Danczuk’s efforts have helped a lot in the case procedurals.”
Meanwhile, Leader of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) delegation, MP Eleanor Laing, called on the government to have the international poll observers for the forthcoming NPC elections. She said it would be ‘just’ if that is being adhered to.
By Sulochana Ramiah Mohan