PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The Sultan of Johor has teamed up with Malaysian entrepreneur Patrick Lim Soo Kit to build an industrial zone for pharmaceutical manufacturers in Sri Lanka.
Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar and Mr Lim, known in Malaysia for his property development company Equine Capital, are principals of Pharma Zone (Pvt) Ltd, a company approved by the Sri Lankan Board of Investment.
According to a press statement, Pharma Zone and the State Pharmaceuticals Manufacturing Corporation of Sri Lanka (SPMC) have agreed to build Sri Lanka's first exclusive pharmaceutical manufacturing zone in the Welipenna area of the Kalutara district.
The state ruler would like the investment to yield not only commercial success, but also benefits to Sri Lankan citizens and closer commercial and diplomatic relations between the people of Sri Lanka and Johor.
"We are delighted to enter into this agreement with the government of Sri Lanka which has always enjoyed warm relations with Malaysia. It is the fervent wish of Sultan Ibrahim, that this venture not only brings commercial prosperity to Sri Lanka but benefits the people by way of reduced pricing as well as the ready availability of drugs," Mr Lim said in the statement.
"This is a 100 per cent Malaysian investment and it underlines the high regard that the Sultan and the people of Johor have for Sri Lanka," he added.
The pharmaceutical manufacturing zone will provide Sri Lankan pharmaceutical companies with sufficient land and basic infrastructure facilities for their plants with a view to achieving the Sri Lankan government's target of localising production of essential pharmaceutical items to a value of US$100 million (S$133 million), thus saving valuable foreign exchange.
SPMC chairman Dr Sayura Samarasundara said that when the industrial zone is completed and begins operations within one year as envisaged, Sri Lanka's dependency on imported drugs would soon become a thing of the past.
The facility will be run and administered by Pharma Zone, headed by Mr Lim, while the SPMC along with the Sri Lankan Health Minister will set standards and monitor quality.
Mr Lim said the facility will be marketed regionally, and that it was the intention of Pharma Zone to attract overseas investors to also set up operations within the manufacturing zone.