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Wijeyadasa vows to oppose Ravi’s resident visa scheme

Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe said yesterday that he was opposed to the proposal by Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake to grant foreigners resident visas for a minimum investment of US$ 300,000.

Asked if the required legislation was in place, Rajapakshe replied that Karunanayake’s proposal had not been presented to the Cabinet of Ministers. "I will oppose it if and when submitted to Cabinet. How can we given resident visas for just US$ 300,000, which works out to only about Rs.45 million? I believe objections would be raised by many other Ministers as well."

Minister Rajapakshe said that such a low visa requirement for foreigners would affect small and medium scale Sri Lankan businessman.

It could, Rajapakshe noted, also lead to undesirable characters including terrorists infiltrating the country.

The Finance Minister said on Thursday that resident visas from two to five years would be granted to foreigners who invested a minimum of USD 300,000 in Sri Lanka. "Tax concessions and extension of visas will also be given to foreigners who invest over US$ 1.5 million."

New regulations would be introduced to increase concessions and facilities granted for Foreign Direct Investments, Karunanayake revealed.

The Finance Minister said that Exchange Control regulations would be relaxed through a regulatory mechanism whereby foreign exchange could be taken out of the country in bulk.

Those measures when implemented would help reduce the huge debt burden that the Rajapaksas had foisted on the country, increase investments, create employment opportunities and also lead to Sri Lanka being marketed as an Investment Destination, the Finance Minister added.
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