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Sri Lanka government unveils foreigner-friendly budget

Staff writer ▼ | November 21, 2015
Sri Lanka's government used its first full budget to lift taxes on foreign investors.
Ravi Karunanayake
New budget   Foreign investment approvals to be granted within 50 days
Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake said the previous administration of strongman Mahinda Rajapakse had left Sri Lanka "on the brink" of receiving Western sanctions by refusing to address rights issues.

"The foreign policy of Sri Lanka was blemished and we were on the brink of receiving stringent economic sanctions and almost left to fend for ourselves," Karunanayake, said while presenting the 2016 budget in parliament.

The finance minister laid out several foreigner-friendly proposals including the lifting of restrictions on foreign ownership of land.

Former president Rajapakse banned foreigners owning property in November 2012 and ordered that any real estate leased to non-nationals will be subjected to a 100 percent tax payable upfront for the entire duration of the lease. The new government proposed removing the lease tax on non-nationals.

The finance minister also announced removing exchange control laws that had been an impediment to direct foreign investment. He said foreign investment approvals will be granted within 50 days under a new regulatory body known as the Agency for Development.