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Tuesday April 23rd, 2024

Sri Lanka can boost passport strength, draw investors: consultancy 

Armand Arton, President and CEO of Arton Capital

ECONOMYNEXT – Arton Capital, a Canadian-based financial consultancy that offers advice and services to improve mobility and draw foreign investors says Sri Lanka can boost the strength of its passport, and also draw investors through residency programs.

Sri Lanka ranks 84 on the Arton Capital Global Passport Power Ranking, along with Nigeria, Ethiopia and Iran. Sri Lanka requires visas for 143 countries, compared to 34 for Singapore and 19 for Dubai.

Sri Lanka is 10 ranks above Syria, which is at the bottom at 94.

Weak Passports

“Sri Lanka is not visa free to Europe, to the UK, to Canada and the US,” Armand Arton, Founder and Chief Executive of Arton Capital, told Economy Next.

“It doesn’t rank in the top tier of passports. However, the power of the passport can be increased.”

“This is something that we assist many countries with, to achieve our shared goal.”

Pakistani passport holders require visa for 134 countries and Bangladesh passports require visa for 149 countries, both according to the ranking of Arton Capital.

The Global Passport Power Rank by Arton Capital sorts passports by their Mobility Score (MS), which includes visa-free, visa on arrival, eTA and eVisa if the country issues a visa in less than 3 working days.

The higher the MS score, the more global mobility its passport holder enjoys, its website says.

Sri Lanka has monetary instability due to an activist central banking involving cut rates by printing money, according to critics, resulting in exchange controls and frequent currency crises.

The country has heavy out migration, including through unofficial means, amid chronic monetary instability.

In South Asia, the Maldives has the least activist monetary authority, the strongest exchange rate peg in the region and it imports labour.

Arton ranks Maldives in the first place of welcoming countries. It has visa on arrival to 194 countries, a welcoming score of 198.

The United Arab Emirates, a stable country with a currency board like monetary system, is ranked number 01 on the Global Passport Power Rank. The UAE has Visa free entry to 134 countries and visa on arrival for 19 countries.

France, Germany and Italy, ranked in second place with visa requirements for 21 countries compared to UAE’s 19. Visa free access is available to 137 countries.

Advisory Services

Arton Capital says it advises governments and also tailors programs to attract investments by implementing investment migration programs, for investors seeking citizenship or residency opportunities.

Stable countries, especially those with low tax rates, can attract foreign investors through investment and residency schemes.

“We propose investing in citizenship and residency schemes for foreign investors, enabling them an extra citizenship in case of insecurity in their home country, to be able to relocate or to travel to a country like Sri Lanka, which their own initial passport does not allow them to do,” said Arton.

Sri Lanka however has no naturalisation process unlike Western liberal states.

Arton Capital offers residency and citizenship programs in over a dozen territories ranging from Quebec, Canada and the UK to St. Kitts and Nevis.

“A residence in Sri Lanka would be of interest for people who would like to set up residence, mainly if they would have a tax benefit in Sri Lanka, over settling in other countries,” Arton said.

But Sri Lanka may have to compete with nations like Singapore, Dubai and Hong Kong which have low tax rates.

Countries could also attract individuals for retirement residence.

“The same can be said for people who may want to relocate while on a retirement scheme, similar to those who flock to Thailand or Malaysia for residence after retirement,” Arton said.

Investment Residency

Louissa Thomas, Director and Vice President at Arton Capital says Sri Lankans could also benefit from the firm’s programs.

With Sri Lanka in a debt crisis, investment residency schemes could help the country get funding, she said.

Arton Capital says its work in territories like Montenegro and Saint Lucia have contributed to economic growth and infrastructure development.

The investor immigration program in Montenegro was aimed at directing capital to the North of the region, where there was very little investment and high unemployment.

Over the course of a four-year project, the region’s unemployment rate fell from 30 percent to 10 percent, Arton said.

“Four- and five-star hotels have now been set up in the North of the nation, which was once completely remote to investment,” he said.

Sri Lanka has potential in real estate and agriculture, as well the projects in Colombo Port City, Thomas said.

“From my observation of the agricultural sector, there’s a lack of access to the latest technology. I think that could be an avenue for the government to look at to direct funds into,” she said.

“If you take real estate, you could program it in a way where foreign investors could purchase real estate and get a residency or citizenship in Sri Lanka.

“For example, if a property developer has ideas for projects in Port City that they would like to bring to market, we could help them with that and structure their project as part of the country’s citizenship by investment program for foreign investors.”(Colombo/Feb14/2024)

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Iran President to open Sri Lanka $514mn irrigation, hydro power project

MULTIPURPOSE: Uma Oya multipurpose development project is the largest since the end of the Mahaweli projects.

ECONOMYNEXT – Iran President Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi will inaugurate an irrigation and hydropower project that was designed and built by Iranian engineering firm and was also initially financed before international sanctions hit the project.

The Uma Oya (River) project will irrigate 4,500 acres of new agricultural land, generate 290 Gigawatt hours of electricity and also provide drinking water, a government statement said.

Sri Lanka had awarded an engineering, procurement, construction (EPC) to Iran’s FARAB engineering group to design and construct the 514 million dollar multipurpose project in 2010.

The project was funded until 2013 with a million US dollar credit from the Export Development Bank of Iran but international sanctions prevented the country from continuing financing, a government statement said.

The project continued with funding from Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka had since repaid 19.3 million dollars of the credit and 35.2 million remains outstanding.

The Uma Oya project has a 120MW of hydro power generators, which can generate 290 Giga Watt hours of energy.

Each year 145 million cubic metres of water will be taken from Uma Oya to the Kirindi Oya river valley after generating electricity in an underground power station.

It will irrigate 1,500 hectares of existing agricultural and 4,500 hectares of new land in the Moneragala district, where crops can be cultivated in both the Maha and Yala seasons.

About 39 million cubic meters of water will be used for drinking and industrial purposes.

Two reservoirs built at Dyraaba and Puhulpola in Uma Oya basin is connected by a 3.98 kilometre conveyance tunnel and water is taken through a 15.2 kilomtre headrace tunnel to an underground power station. A tailrace tunnel takes water from the power station to the Kirindi Oya basin.

The project was originally expected to be completed in 2015, but due to financing delays and later water leaking into the headrace tunnel and the Covid pandemic had delayed it. The project completion date was extended to March 31, 2024 and defect liability date to March 31, 2025.

(Colombo/April23/2024 – CORRECTED Iran President Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi will inaugurate an irrigation and hydropower project that was designed and built by Iranian engineering firm.)

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Sri Lanka state oligopoly allowed to import some black gram

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka has allowed the import of some black gram, by three state agencies, according to a gazette notice issued under the hand of President Ranil Wickremesinghe.

Import licenses will be given for 2,000 metric tonnes of the seed classified under HS Code 7312.31.22 and 29.

Sri Lanka State Trading Corporation, National Food Promotion Board and Sri Lanka Hadabima Authority is to be given import licenses.

Traders have resorted to smuggling some types of black gram (ulundu) mis classified as chick peas, to get over high taxes and import restrictions.

Tamil legislators have also protested the import controls, which they go into several key ethnic foods they consume. (Colombo/Apr23/2024)

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Sri Lanka Foreign Ministry consular division shifted to Battaramulla

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Foreign Ministry said it consular division would be shifted to the Suhurupaya building in Subuthipura, Battaramulla from May 02, 2024.

Document authentication services provided by the Consular Affairs Division in Colombo will be suspended on 29 and 30 April 2024 held transfer the Electronic Document Authentication System (e-DAS) to the new premises at Suhurupaya.

Urgent applications for authentication to the Consular Division in Colombo, or any Regional Consular Offices by 4.15 pm on 26 April 2024, the Foreign Ministry said.

Regional Consular Offices in Jaffna, Trincomalee, Kurunegala, Kandy and Matara will remain open to accept applications.

Authenticated documents will be delivered to the applicants only on Thursday, 02 May 2024.

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