One of the major contributions that the Board of Investment of Sri Lanka has made to the National Economy since it was set up in 1978 is the creation of employment opportunities. These have boosted the standards of living of the masses and transferred technology and know-how into the local economy.
At the end of September 2008 a total of 458,868 people were directly employed by enterprises operating under the BOI. In addition to this number another estimated 2.5 million are indirectly employed. Of those directly employed the vast majority are women, totaling 283,991 (62%) while men account for 173,877 (38%).
The textiles, wearing apparel and leather industries employ a total of 299,300 that represents 65% of all workers employed by BOI enterprises. This is followed by the service sector with 68,168 (15%), manufactured products employing 30,724 (7%) and the chemical, petroleum, rubber and plastic sectors employing 26,766 (6%).
The leading employers among BOI enterprises are engaged in the garment industry and /or related activities such high fashion and include the Brandix Group, Lodestar, MAS Holdings Group, Eam Maliban Group and other well-known establishments. These enterprises manufacture for the American and European Union markets.
There are altogether 2,492 existing enterprises operating under the BOI regime. These include 1,702 Section 17 enterprises. Such enterprises benefit from the advantages ot the BOI law while another 790 Section 16 companies operate under the normal laws.
Out of a total of 1,702 Section 17 Enterprises (i.e. enterprises that enjoy BOI benefits), 608 are in manufacturing, 402 in the textile and apparel sector, 641 are in services and 51 in agriculture. The manufacturing companies are essentially engaged in food processing (98 enterprises) and other manufacturing (62 enterprises).