Visiting Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister for South Asia Alistair Burt has called on the Sri Lankan government to improve economic transparency to attract investment, a statement from the British embassy said here on Friday.
Burt, who is on a two-day visit to the island to assess its post-war development, had told a reception hosted by British Ambassador John Rankin and attended by the local business community that all countries should concentrate on improving their governance to remain competitive in a challenging global environment.
Over 100 UK companies are active in Sri Lanka, particularly in the areas of education, construction and garment manufacturing, and there was a 12 percent increase in Sri Lankan exports to the UK in 2012.
"Today, more than ever, we need our companies to compete in what the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, has called the global race, where competition is becoming ever fiercer between emerging and emerged economies," the statement quoted him as saying.
He emphasised that it is up to all countries to ensure their economies are transparent, fair and straightforward for potential investors.
Burt's comments come after the United States announced that it would table a second resolution on Sri Lanka at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) sessions beginning later this month.
The U.S. has reiterated that the government's reconciliation efforts are not being implemented fast enough and governance issues would impact Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).
However, Sri Lankan government has consistently denied this claim.
Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella told media on Thursday that the Cabinet was confident of attracting investment and insisted human rights issue was not the reason for the country's lackluster FDI figures.
According to initial projections by the Central Bank, Sri Lanka managed to attract only half of the expected 2 billion U.S. dollars earmarked for 2012.
Opposition parties have consistently criticised the government for failing to improve transparency and governance to attract investment.
Sri Lanka emerged from a three-decade war in 2009 and since then has embarked on an ambitious development path aiming to double its per capita income to 4,000 U.S. dollars by 2016.