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Sri Lanka to set up commission to use ‘underutilized’ property, half-built condos

ECONOMYNEXT- Sri Lanka will set up a commission to make use of ‘underutilized’ condominiums, under-utilized lands and assets of state ventures, according to a proposal cleared by the cabinet of ministers.

The government claims that “immediate action” should be taken for “the betterment of the nation” and “national development.”

The Assets Utilization Reform Commission Bill will be set up based on a proposal in the budget 2021.

It will make use of assets of state ventures, state land “given on long term lease but is underutilized, condominium properties where construction had been delayed and “underutilized land,” a government statement said.

It is not yet clear whether Asset Utilization Reform Commission will expropriate the properties outright or will force owners to use them according to the wishes of the state and functionaries of the state.

Sri Lanka has a long history of violating property rights of citizens and foreigners.

Sri Lanka last expropriated private property through a targeted law in 2011, severely damaging the country’s image as attractive destination for investment that is free from expropriation by the state, critics have said.

Sri Lanka’s post-independent rulers who inherited parliament from the British has expropriated properties, where private citizens had clear title, through ‘land reform’ using its law-making powers.

Both foreigners and domestic citizens had been expropriated in the style followed in Zimbabwe and Venezuela.

In 1978, Sri Lanka gave constitutional protection to investments but since then at least two expropriation laws have been passed.

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There is no judicial review of passed legislation in Sri Lanka.

The under-utilization law is coming as the country is trying to get more foreign investment. (Colombo/Mar24/2021)

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