President Kumaratunge talks on Impact of Globalisation and Ken Balendra of John Keels becomes the Chairman of the New Commonwealth Investment Fund


The Commonwealth heads of Government meeting took off the ground on 24 October 97 and will be in progress until 27 October at Edinburgh, Britain, with British Prime Minister Tony Blair as host and chairperson. The uniqueness of CHOGM is that it is the only international forum of its kind where Head of Government from virtually all corners of the globe, representing all regions, traditions and levels of development can meet every two years, on an informal basis, and reach consensus on issues of common concern. The meetings also serve to bind closer the Commonwealth family of 1.7 billion people of the world's population. The Commonwealth is a voluntary association of 54 member countries representing about quarter of the world's population.

Nauaru and Tuvalu, Island States in the South Pacific have special membership and do not participate in summits. Nigeria was suspended from the Commonwealth at the 1995 CHOGM, in New Zealand, pending its return to compliance with the 1991 Harare Commonwealth Declaration. This emphasises, among other things, democracy and good governance, human rights and the rule of law.

The Commonwealth Secretariat was set up in 1965 as an inter-governmental body to service the association. Among other things, its officials and experts advise government on all aspects of privatisation, including policy, timing valuation, and structuring. It is active in promoting privately owned and operated investment funds on international capital markets. The Secretariat will consider providing marketing support for companies win which the Fund has invested.

The Commonwealth Business Forum the first of its kind to bring together leading industrialists, financiers, presidents and prime ministers to develop the Commonwealth as a powerful global network for trade and investment took place at the Hotel Inter-Continental London on 22 and 23 October 1997.. It was tied in with the theme of this year's Commonwealth heads of Government meeting: " Trade, Investment and Development - The road to Commonwealth Prosperity". Eight Heads of Government addressed the Forum. On 22 October, Sri Lankan President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunge spoke on the ' Impact of Globalisation: Enhancing Trade and Investment.

A new Commonwealth Investment Fund for South Asia will be launched at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting tomorrow ( Saturday 25th October). The launch will be held at the Pentland Suite, The Conference Centre, in Edinburgh.

The Fund, the South Asia Regional Fund, is the third in a planned series of regional investment funds established under the umbrellas of the Commonwealth Private Investment Initiative (CPII), a pan-Commonwealth initiative which has raised around US$200 million for investment in the emerging economies of the Commonwealth.

As with the other CPII funds to date in Africa and the Pacific, CDC will manage the fund drawing an existing network of seven offices in the region. The Chairman will be Mr. Ken Balendra, Chairman of John Keels in Sri Lanka.

The Fund covers the Commonwealth countries of Bangladesh, India, the Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, as well as non-Commonwealth members Bhutan and Nepal.

The maximum capitalisation of the Fund will be US$200 million, but launched with an initial capital of US$110 million. Founding shareholders comprise CDC and investors from South Asia and South East Asia and the Indian Ocean Region; further amounts will be raised from institutional investors with a second closing in march 1998.

The Fund will make long term equity and quasi equity investments in companies across a broad range of economic and industrial sectors. This will bring additional capital to private sector business and contribute to economic growth. The Fund will seek to generate a return to investors of some 20% pa in US dollar terms over 30 years.

Chief Emeka Anyaoku, Commonwealth Secretary General was quoted as saying: " This fund constitutes yet another example of the Commonwealth's unique capacity to promote the co-operation and foster economic development among its member countries."