Priority is to be given for the local industrialists willing to invest in this zone as they have inherited expertise in the industry for decades and coconuts for these industries will be imported from foreign countries in compliance with the required quarantine conditions
Coconut Development Authority Chairman Keerthi Sri Weerasinghe said the Cabinet paper is being prepared for the establishment of this Zone with an investment of US$ 1 billion and it will generate more than 15,000 direct and indirect employments
Weerasinghe said land to an extent of over 400 acres has already been allocated for this project in Hambantota.
“The authority is presently in discussion with the relevant agencies to make groundworks for the project “, he said
Weerasinghe added that the Authority’s main focus is to increase the export earnings to US$ 1 billion from the current US$ 661 million a year with the commencement of commercial operations of the Export Processing Zone
This project is in an area outside the Coconut triangle due to quarantine issues and local industrialists will receive pride of place in this Zone. Foreign investment will also be encouraged as a secondary option.
He said that Sri Lankans have been involved in the industry for over centuries and they have inherited unmatched expertise. Most of our industrialists have opened up industries in Malaysia and the Philippines as the country could not ensure their constant supply of nuts, he said
Weerasinghe added that strict rules and regulations would be introduced to ensure that not a single fibre of imported coconut goes out of this Export Processing Zone This zone will be a boon to the experienced local industrialists who left the country as there was no proper mechanism to ensure a continuous supply of coconuts for their industry.