Government targets US $ 1 billion FDI this year
Government has targeted a record $1 billion worth of foreign direct investments this year, targeting inflows in mainly the power, telecommunications and information technology sectors, the chairman of the government’s investment arm said yesterday.

"We have raised minimum investment levels in order to attract bigger investors and boost total investments," Lakshman Watawala of the Board of Investment in Sri Lanka said at a news conference.

Last year, the country attracted foreign investments worth $285 million.

To help meet this year’s FDI target, the minimum investment for any company has been hiked to $250,000 from $50,000, effective immediately, Watawala said.

The single biggest investment slated for this year is a coal power project worth $400 million-$450 million from National Power Thermal Corp. of India, he said.

"We have identified a location in (eastern) Trincomalee for this project. We expect details to be finalized by end-March," he added.

The government has also approved a proposal to develop hydro power projects on a joint venture basis between the state and the private sector.

In the telecommunications sector, Watawala said Telekom Malaysia Bhd. (4863.KU) has pledged a $150 million investment this year to upgrade infrastructure and fund a network expansion in its mobile telephone subsidiary in Sri Lanka. Telekom Malaysia owns 84% of Dialog Telekom (DIAL.SL), the largest listed company on the Colombo bourse.

Sri Lankan internet services and software development company Virtusa Ltd. will invest $20 million to build an IT campus to develop and export software, said Watawala. The campus is expected to offer employment to around 3,000 IT engineers. The company, which is headquartered in the U.S., offers internet services and solutions primarily for U.S. customers.

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