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Sri Lanka defends state land transfer to foreign investor

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s new administration is defending the sale of state land on a lease to a foreign investor for a 250 million US dollar mixed development project, after opposition groups said it went against a declared policy of not selling state land to foreigners.

Perennial Real Estate Holdings foreign investor will be given three acres of land near Colombo’s Galle Face beachfront for 43 million US dollars on a 99-year lease.

“The lease is not a sale as depicted by the opposition,” State Minister of Development Banking Shehan Semasinghe told reporters.

“We are against the sale of freehold land to foreigners.”

He said the project was initially proposed in 2014, during an administration headed by Mahinda Rajapaksa, but the last administration had not been able to take it forward.

The investment at the time was 200 million dollars and now it had been increased to 250 million dollars he said.

Spokesmen for the current administration had also called for land to be given to the investor on competitive tender.

Minister Semasinghe said the land was given at the valuation of the government valuer.

The investor will pay 43 million dollars up front for a 99-year lease and annual rentals after that.

The evaluation of the investment was done by officials and the Board of Investment, and he said he was confident that it was a good project. (Colombo/Jan03/2019)

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