Landmark Domestic Investors Dialogue
The Ministry of Enterprise Development, Industrial Policy and Investment Promotion and the UNDP Invest-in-Peace Project joined hands to co-sponsor a Domestic Investors Dialogue at the Hilton JAIC Tower recently.
This informal meeting brought 45 local business leaders from 14 regional Chambers of Commerce around the island, from Jaffna, Batticaloa, Vavuniya, Trincomalee, Central Province and Sabaragamuwa to Matara, Kalutara, Galle and Hambantota into direct contact with Colombo-based policy makers and policy shapers.
Under the thematic banner of "Building Business and Peace in Sri Lankas Regions", the wide-ranging discussion topics included a current update on the peace process, regaining Sri Lanka, facilitating regional investment, donors perspectives on regional business and peace-building, affordable access to commercial credit, successful brand-building in a competitive environment, and "RRR: rehabilitation and recovery in Sri Lankas regions."
K. Nishantha, Nandane Wickkramage and Neela Marikkar at the Domestic Investors Dialog organized by UNDP and Ministry of Enterprise, Development, Industrial Policy and Investment Promotion.
Recognising that there has been too little communication between policy makers and regional communities, and that local businesses have an essential role to play in generating jobs, goods and services, the Domestic Investors Dialogue aims at building a bridge between key stakeholders.
This was an emotional moment for the regional business community, which expressed the view that their point of view was not considered important enough in the past.
In his welcoming remarks, UNDP Resident Representative Miguel Bermeocredited R. Paskaralingam, Senior Economic Policy Advisor to the Prime Minister, with having inspired the dialogue. He saluted "the timely, even historic, opportunity this gathering offers to engage Sri Lankas talented regional business community in driving the peace process forward."
Speaking of the Governments expectations for the exchange, Paskaralingam characterized the dialogue as "a landmark event." He noted that this was the first time, to his knowledge, that islandwide provincial and district chamber leaders had assembled for candid discussion with policy makers.
Adding that the fruits of development have been too limited to Colombo and its environs, he stressed the need to carry development throughout the regions, with the local private sector in a driving role. To facilitate that collaboration, he strongly recommended that the initial dialogue be only a debut, launching an ongoing series of public and private conversations.
The Regional Business leaders, especially from the North and East appealed to the policy makers to help bring them into the mainstream through forums like Domestic Investors Dialogue, since empowerment of Sri Lankas regions is crucial to driving the engine of growth.
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