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CBO hosts Lankan banking delegation

MUSCAT Omani banks and the business community should tap the numerous investment opportunities in Sri Lanka, which aspires to become a $100 billion economy by 2016, according to Ajith Nivard Cabraal, Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka.

“I am confident that the business community in Oman would continue to strengthen its ties with Sri Lanka by identifying new investment opportunities and partnerships and thereby expanding the economic relations between the two countries,” he said while making a presentation at the Oman-Sri Lanka investment forum here on Monday. A number of Omani banks have shown interest in investment in Sri Lanka, he said.

In his presentation on the emerging investment opportunities arising from the Sri Lankan government’s strategy as envisioned in the ‘Mahinda Chinthana Vision for the Future,’ he said the government’s vision envisages transforming Sri Lanka into a strategically important economic centre by taking advantage of the country’s strategic geographic location. “The Sri Lankan economy is on a high trajectory and there has been a remarkable growth in all key sectors. The business confidence has improved significantly. We believe that the economy in Sri Lanka would expand to $100 billion by 2016, with a per capita income of $4,000,” he said.

Ajith said that part of this vision entails developing five strategic hubs: a knowledge hub, a commercial hub, a naval/maritime hub, an aviation hub and an energy hub. In addition to these five hubs, tourism is emerging as a major sector in the economy with Sri Lanka being considered a top travel destination, providing ample opportunities for investment in that sector, he said.

Ajith is leading a 15-member delegation from Sri Lanka to the Sultanate. The delegation, which concluded its two-day visit on Monday, included officials from the Central Bank of Sri Lanka as well as the chief executive officers and senior officers from the six largest banks in Sri Lanka such as Bank of Ceylon, People’s Bank, Hatton National Bank, Commercial Bank, Sampath Bank, and National Savings Bank. The objective of the visit was to express the appreciation of Sri Lanka to the banking sector of the Sultanate for the strong interest it had shown in Sri Lanka and to further strengthen the ties between Sri Lanka and Oman, while exploring new opportunities for trade and investment between the two countries.

The delegation held meetings with the Executive President of the Central Bank of Oman and chief executive officers and senior officials of Bank Sohar, Bank Muscat, National Bank of Oman and BankDhofar. During the discussions, the Sri Lankan delegation briefed investors on the recent developments in the Sri Lankan economy and provided an update of the emerging investments opportunities in Sri Lanka. The governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka said the Sri Lankan economy has experienced robust growth since the end of the conflict in 2009 as a result of the timely policies that have been implemented and the peace dividend that has ensued since the end of the conflict.

Welcoming the delegation from Sri Lanka, HE Hamoud Bin Sangour Al Zadjali, Executive President of the Central Bank of Oman, reaffirmed the bilateral ties between the banking communities that have resulted in a strong relationship. He mentioned the emergence of Oman as a vibrant economy that will continue to support and partner with the growth potentials of economies like Sri Lanka.

Addressing the gathering, Dr Mohamed Abdulaziz Kalmoor, Chief Executive of Bank Sohar, reiterated the banking community’s continued support to Sri Lanka. He added that apart from commercial reasons to invest in Sri Lanka, the growing political stability was another factor that had close affinity to the political situation between the two countries. Bank Sohar has been at the forefront in initiating a climate for investment of excess money abroad after rightful deployment for the growth of the local economy.

During discussions with the banking community in the Sultanate, Ajith Nivard Cabraal, expressed his gratitude to the Central Bank of Oman and the banking sector for continuing to place their confidence in the Sri Lankan economy by investing in diverse areas of the Sri Lankan economy. Significant investment in the government securities market has in turn afforded a favourable return to Omani investors. In addition, banks have made available money market funds and credit lines to the banking sector in Sri Lanka. Trade relations between the two countries have also been strengthened with the sourcing of crude oil from Oman for the first time in 2012, he said.

By Oommen John P

Source: Oman Tribune 19.02.2013