ECONOMYNEXT- Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa has flagged work an expressway to Ratnapura where the first 26 kilometre section is being built at a cost of 54.7 billion rupees with domestic finance.
“Due to Covid we cannot import vehicles,” Prime Minister Rajapaksa said at the ceremony to mark the beginning of the construction work, in reference to import control placed after money printing created forex shortages.
“Despite the difficulties during the Coronavirus crises we have not forgotten development work.”
The first section of the 76 kilometre highway runs from Kahathuduwa to Ingiriya. Section two will run to Pelmadulla and the last section to Ratnapura.
The 54.7 billon contract was awarded to Sri Lanka-based Maga Construction.
Highways Ministry Secretary R W Premasiri said the feasibility study for the project was done by a domestic company and construction will be monitored by the Road Development Authority.
The expressway was originally expected to be built with Chinese finance. In March last year the contract to the Chinese firm was terminated by the Cabinet of Minister for reasons that were not clear.
Large investment projects are usually financed from abroad to keep down domestic interest rates. Investments trigger imports and if money is printed to finance projects, forex shortages take place. (Colombo/May07/2021)