Board of Investment (BOI) Chairman Upul Jayasuriya today announced his resignation, citing ‘personal reasons.’
Jayasuriya had reportedly said that his decision to resign was taken strictly due to personal reasons and had also claimed that he had acted with honesty and integrity as the BOI Chairman and was not involved in any corruption during his tenure since 2015 as the head of the investment promotion agency.
Jayasuriya was the ex-President of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka.
In recent months, several articles including in the state run Daily News have reportedly accused Jayasuriya of conducting his duties in a questionable manner including the deal the BOI reportedly signed with the Al- Aman group to build the tallest building in Asia.
According to the Daily News expose; Al Aman signed a USD $2 billion agreement with Sri Lanka’s Board of Investment (BOI) on June 30, 2017 to build the super-skyscraper in Colombo.
The alarm bells sounded early; Al Aman bills itself “a globally renowned chain with its operations spread across the world.” However, investigations by the Daily News found that there were no records of Al Aman offices outside of Sri Lanka except for one in the United Arab Emirates. The investment into Sri Lanka is billed as a Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). However, the group’s head office is located in Sri Lanka. The group’s website provides one office in the United Arab Emirates with the location provided as No.709, Shk.Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktom Street, Ajman UAE.
“The Daily News contacted the listed phone number for the Branch (0097) 167473544 to be told that the “Phone number was out of service,” through an automated message. Repeated attempts found no projects that have been completed by the group. The subsidiary, Al Aman WCC, has all listed future projects within Sri Lanka, despite boasting of an international portfolio. The projects include Aman 101- Royal Empire and Aman Royal Island, in addition to the proposed World Capital Centre,” the Daily News said in its report published on July 11, 2017.
When discussing this issue with Upul Jayasuriya, on Wednesday, Colombo Telegraph was informed as follows:
Application was received by the Board of Investment of Sri Lanka (BOI). The summary of the proposed project as stated in the Application is as follows:-
World Capital Centre will stand the tallest among other infrastructural marvels in Sri Lanka gracing a height of 625 meters and consisting of 117 floors as major mixed development project. Proposed project will be located within the commercial capital of Sri Lanka. The building will house a hotel, business center, luxury residential and service apartments, leisure and recreational areas.
Based on the Board paper submitted by the Executive Director (Investment Promotion) through the Director General of BOI, the Board approved in principle the investment proposal by the name “World Capital Centre” funded by TU – E Capital Lanka (Pvt) Ltd., valued at US $ 2.4 Billion to be invested over a period of six years, which will in its entirety consist of Foreign Investment.
The investor having deposited an initial sum of US $ 2 Million in a State Bank designated for the proposed investment project, the BOI entered into A preliminary Agreement incorporating and imposing a number of conditions was executed with Al-Aman World Capital Centre Limited. The said conditions included in the said agreement are as follows:
1. “ Para 6; The Agreement is subject to the condition inter alia that the Enterprise shall acquire good title to / good leasehold interest in the land / site and submit a copy of the title deed / instrument of lease as the case may be, to the Board within three (03) months from the date hereof.
2. …..The enterprise shall enter into a supplementary agreement having obtained the necessary approval and / clearances referred to in Clause (13) of this Agreement and until such time the Enterprise shall not be entitled to duty free imports referred to in sub clause (iv) of Clause (11) hereof, under this Agreement.
3. …..Failure to comply with the above shall invalidate the Agreement and this agreement shall thereupon absolutely be determined and the Enterprise shall forfeit all amounts paid to the Board.
4. “ para 7(11); ……… Presales advances collected from the buyers shall not be considered as a part of the investment in the determination of concessions granted by the Board.
5. …….7(111) in order to assure the commitment towards implementing the project, the enterprise shall require to remit United States Dollars Two Hundred Million (US$ 200 Million) to Sri Lanka on or before the 31st December 2017. However, in the event such remittance is not made as stipulated herein, the project shall stand terminated ipso facto.”
6. This project will not be entitled for any Tax concession as at date and the provisions of the Inland Revenue Law shall be applicable to the enterprise in respect of the profits and the income generated through the approved activities.
The investor in order to proceed with the proposed investment project is required to fulfill all of the above conditions. Failure to comply with the said conditions will in effect render the said Agreement null and void.
There was no commitment on the part of the BOI in the procurement of the Land.
The BOI is the principle agency mandated to promote and facilitate FDI as empowered under the BOI Act of 1978.
We as a country and the BOI have to be positive. We are not a regulatory authority. It is the role of the BOI to attract and facilitate investments as empowered by the BOI Law. There are however other regulatory bodies in the system of governance that have been established to play such regulatory role. In an instance where the prospective investor expresses an interest to invest in Sri Lanka, it is the duty of the BOI to do its utmost to facilitate such an investment. We cannot afford to take a negative attitude. Given the challenging global environment where we are placed 110 out of 190 countries as per the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index, it is a challenge to attract investment, particularly when no tax concessions are offered while all countries competing for FDI in this region continue to offer such incentives.
By the execution of this agreement, neither the BOI nor the country has been disadvantaged by any means. The Company is not placed in an advantageous position either. However skepticism that has been created would not only jeopardise this investment, but also have a negative impact on other prospective investments.
Launching Sri Lanka to Galactic Heights – Al Aman Group