China’s ‘Port City’ in Sri Lanka to go ahead, land on lease, not freehold: Malik

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka has sorted out differences with China on major projects with the biggest, a 1.4 billion US dollar ‘Port City’ real estate reclamation, about to be given approval, a minister said.

“We discussed all outstanding issues, all outstanding matters have been resolved,” declared Malik Samarawickrama, Minister of Strategic Development and International Trade, referring to his recent visit to China.

“Now it’s all systems go as far as China is concerned.”

Sri Lanka’s new government suspended the port city project soon after being elected in January 2015 and also began probing other projects, saying they were overpriced and some were not economically viable.

Samarawickrama said his visit was to prepare for the visit of Sri Lankan prime minister Ranil Wickremasinghe who is scheduled to be in China during April 7-8 for talks with the government.
He said the port city project was suspended pending approval of its environmental impact assessment (EIA) which is now expected to be given.

“Very soon they can recommence work on the port city project,” Samarawickrama said. “There are a few amendments in the agreement which will done during the course of this month.”

He said land reclaimed by the Chinese off Colombo will be on a 99 year lease and not on freehold basis, which had been a concern earlier.

“And once the land is filled the whole project will be under a joint venture between the Chinese company and Sri Lanka’s government,” he told the ‘Sri Lanka Investment and Business Conclave’ organised by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce.

The investor in the Colombo Port City project is the state-owned China Communications & Construction Company (CCCC), listed on the Hong Kong Stock exchange. CCCC has set up a local firm CHEC Port City Colombo Ltd.