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(1)   The Government has unveiled its 2016 Budget where dramatic changes have been proposed to enable amongst others, direct foreign investments.

(2)   As you are aware, there was an unexpected  change in the government of Sri Lanka on January 8thwhereby the previous government with its narrow nationalist approach was overthrown.

(3)   In further confirmation there was a General Election in August of this year whereby the United National Party obtained a majority of seats in Parliament but opted to form a National Government with the other major party in the opposition thereby arriving on a consensual government.

(4)   This is the first budget of the new consensual government.

(5)   The government in order to attract FDI inflows into the country has made certain proposals some of which are highlighted below:-

(i)              Government to permit full ownership of land on identified investments.

(ii)            Remove the 15% tax imposed on the leasing of land to foreigners.

(iii)           Repeal the present Exchange Control Act and introduce an investor friendly Foreign Exchange Management Bill.

(iv)           Income from dividends on investments made by non-citizens and foreign companies in listed shares through inward remittances to be exempted from Income Tax.

(v)             To replace the current Board of Investment (BOI) by a new institution named the Agency for Development enabling the applications for foreign investments to be completed to enable companies to commence business within 50 days.

(vi)           Government lands and investment related tax concessions to be provided to investors who will invest in certain areas of the country considered to be less developed.

(vii)          A 50% tax reduction for a period of five years to any new company setting up facilities in such areas with a minimum investment of US$10 million.

(viii)        To abolish the Securities Investment Account (SIA) through with foreign investors were requested to channel their investments hitherto.  Instead investors will be allowed to bring in money to Sri Lanka through any bank account existing in the formal banking system.

(ix)           To ensure security to any investment and inward remittance made by non-nationals the government is to obtain  insurance with an international agency ensuring the security of all investments.

(x)             To encourage further FDI’s, Residence Visas for a three year period to be granted for all remittance above US$250,000.

(xi)           Permanent Residence Visa will be granted for any investment brought in which is over US$5 million.

These proposals will necessarily need to be fleshed out by the introduction of new Acts which will happen in the coming weeks.

To find out when the relevant Acts are placed before the legislature please contact us.

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