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Sri Lanka to set up pharmaceutical investment zone in Hambantota

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka will set up a pharmaceuticals investment zone in Hambantota, under a government plan to produce 50 percent of drug requirements in the country and start exports, the President’s office said.

President Gotababaya Rajapaksa had invited all domestic businessmen to enter the pharmaceuticals industry.

“An Investment Zone of 400 acres will be established in the Hambantota Industrial Zone for manufacturing medicine targeting the global market,” the statement said.

“The world’s topmost pharmaceutical companies have already expressed their inclination to join this venture.

“There is a huge demand for pharmaceuticals in the African and Southeast Asian region and it is also a goal to grab those market opportunities.”

Sri Lanka is importing drugs at a rupee cost of 130 billion rupees or 85 percent of the requirements. Producing half in the country will generate 60 billion rupees of foreign exchange savings.

Sri Lanka runs into foreign exchange shortage whenever private credit picks up due to liquidity injections made by the central bank to keep interest rates down triggering policies of import substation, exchange control and import controls.

In many areas including essential foods, import duties are slapped in Sri Lanka to give high profits to producers.

No import duties have been slammed on drugs so far, but domestic producers were given buy-back contracts from the state health service by the last administration.

An investment zone for local investors will be established in a 100-acre land at Oyamaduwa, Anuradhapura.

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Twenty-five medium scale businessmen have expressed willingness to invest 300 million dollars in the zone. At the moment a new drug is being produced every month, and the target was to produce a new drug every two weeks.

President Rajapaksa had observed that it take nearly for the National Medicinal Regulatory Authority to process documents, and legal changes would be made to speed up the process.

“It was decided to establish a new unit within Medicines Regulatory Authority to address issues including the registration of locally manufactured pharmaceuticals,” the statement said. (Colombo/Sept12/2020)