American Chamber urges Sri Lanka to use Millenium Challenge grant

ECONOMYNEXT – The American Chamber of Commerce in Sri Lanka has urged Sri Lanka to go ahead with projects financed by a grant from the US Millennium Challenge Corporation, which would improve traffic management and land rights of the people.

America’s Millennium Challenge Corporation is giving a grant of 480 million dollars, which does not have to be repaid, to implement the projects.

“The transport project, if implemented, has an estimated economic rate of return of 19%, while the land project has an estimated economic rate of return of 26%. Both these projects have a further intangible social impact,” the AmCham said in a statement.

“The transport project will reduce traffic congestion in and out of Colombo; create safer, more reliable public transportation through modernizing the bus service; and lower the transport costs required to connect people and goods with markets through upgrades to existing interprovincial roads in the Central, Uva, and Sabaragamuwa Provinces.”

The two projects are projected to benefit 11.3 million people, which accounts for 54 percent, of Sri Lanka’s population.

The project is held up with President Maithripala Sirisena, delaying approval at Cabinet.

The land project will help the Government create an inventory of state lands; strengthen the land valuation department; increase tenure security for smallholders, women, and digitize deeds records so that they are less vulnerable to damage, theft, and loss, AmCham said.

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Sri Lanka’s current land registration system was set up by the British. Before European rule, ordinary Sri Lankans did not have freehold land rights.

Like most other Asian nations land was owned by the king, under service tenure (a type of serfdom) and individuals did not have the right to divide or sell the land, analysts say. (Colombo/Sept04/2019)

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