Loose talk hurts govt credibility, Sri Lanka business lobby warns
ECONOMYNEXT – The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, Sri Lanka’s top business lobby, has urged the government to ensure its members do not talk out of turn, especially on foreign investments like the lease of Hambantota port to China.
The port deal, in which China Merchant Port Holdings, known as CMPort, takes over its operations for 99 years for US$1.12 billion is an “important milestone on the journey towards a true maritime hub,” the chamber said in a statement.
“In addition to the much-needed boost to the country’s foreign reserves, the reported scale and size of the investment is expected to generate meaningful FDI in port-related activities, as well as businesses around the port.”
But the chamber warned that conflicting views expressed by certain government ministers over the deal could damage its credibility and hurt investor confidence.
“While recognizing the circumstances in which this deal was required to be finalized, the Chamber urges the Government to ensure that the principle of collective responsibility is respected, so as to inspire confidence in the final decision taken,” the statement said.
“Sri Lanka needs to enhance its reputation as a business destination that has a credible and predictable investment regime. This imperative is challenged when seemingly conflicting sentiments are expressed by responsible Government sources.”
It said that at a meeting held recently with members of the Ceylon Chamber’s National Agenda Committee on Logistics and Transport and other private sector stakeholders, government officials briefed the private sector on the Hambantota deal.
They included Mahinda Samarasinghe, Minister of Ports and Shipping, Parakrama Dissanayake, Chairman of the Sri Lanka Ports Authority and H. A. Wimalasoorya, Executive Director of the SLPA.
The Ceylon Chamber said that industry representatives noted international rating agencies had been quick to highlight the positive effects of the transaction.
They also noted that the consequent economic benefits arising from a growth in industrial activity would create more employment opportunities in the region and provide sizable impetus to propel growth in the maritime related services and logistics sectors around the Port of Hambantota.
(COLOMBO, August 15, 2017)