Delivering the keynote address at the inauguration of the ‘Sri Lanka Investment and Business Conclave 2016’ organised by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, Azzat was full of praise for the country’s strong human capital and engagement by policy makers.
“Capital and resources without the people to use it wisely will be capital squandered.
“Sri Lanka has a wealth of human resource here and abroad and a company that harnesses such human resource well is bound to do well.”
Recalling the challenges faced by Dialog Axiata when it was first begun in 1995 during the war and the remarkable development it has seen over the past 20 years to become one of the top companies in the world for innovation and low-cost products, the Chairman was eloquent about the opportunities offered by Sri Lanka.
“Having come to Sri Lanka in the worst of times and survived and thrived, we look forward to the best of times, to work with the Government of National Unity, to realise its promise of peace and prosperity for Sri Lanka. For those who are waiting, watching or wanting to invest in Sri Lanka, I say wait not, I suggest you float with Sri Lanka.”
Not only did the company manage to weather multiple years of war, it also managed to employ talented local professionals and also enrich the lives of millions of Sri Lankans through its products and improve public revenue through billions of tax payments.
“The company provides employment to 300 people and indirectly supports 100,000 families in the value chains. So what you may ask is our experience investing in a foreign country. First, I believe while one must be concerned of the policies and stability of the country, the business opportunities as reflected in the size, growth potential of the market, the investment climate, and incentives provided to invest, the investor has to accept conditions cannot be exactly as he wants it to be.”
Azzat acknowledged that when he questioned his predecessors on the decision to invest and remain in Sri Lanka, the fact that they enjoyed the full support of the Government and regulators were a reason to stay.
“I believe in the response of a rational and responsible Government to investors. That is what investors want above all. That industry polices are clear and predictable as much as possible and fairly applied. Changes to policies, taxes and rules and regulations are changed with perspective and not retrospectively. It is said that between authority and anarchy there is only argument. So long as there is room for argument, I believe an investor will remain invested.”
“When a foreign party invests, it is necessarily long term and we have to be engaged with different political parties or people in power. The recognition of such realities by both investor and investee induces long-term investment.” (Daily FT)