Sri Lanka ‘Western Megapolis’ to draw investments of US$40bn: minister

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Western Province ‘Megapolis’ area is expected to draw foreign and domestic investments of over 40 billion rupees into infrastructure and private projects over the next 10 years, with about 20 percent being wrapped up this year, a minister said.

 State initiated project to boost roads, rail and power will provide the foundation for private investments in logistics, housing, industry and services.

"We have calculated that investment we need for all these projects is around 40 billion US dollars for the next 10 years," Megapolis Development Minister Champika Ranawaka told a business forum at the National Chamber of Commerce of Sri Lanka in Colombo.

"I think we can attract foreign and local investments to promote this. We will have a level playing field, equal opportunities and transparency.

About 200 projects have been identified but there will enough room for flexibility for organic growth.

"Naturally the number is bound to grow and the projects bound to evolve, given that this mega development initiative is evolutionary by its very nature," Ranawaka said.

Most large cities in Asia have grown organically, evolving in unique ways to serve the people, rather than through state planning.

He said foreign governments and investors have shown interest and President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Wickremesinghe are taking the message to international capitals.

Investments were required in transport, energy, water, housing and relocation, environment and waste management.

There would be an ‘Aero Maritime Trade Hub’, a high rise central business district, industrial and tourist cities in Meerigama, Horana, Negambo and Aluthgama, a science and technology city around Malabe, an and ‘eco habitat and plantation city.

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There was plans for ‘smart city infrastructure’ and ‘spiritual development’ facilities.

Ranawaka said in 2016 about 20 percent of the projects will be initiated.

The government was seeking public private partnerships wherever possible, he said.

Improving transport infrastructure was a key facet of the projects as Colombo, transport costs were already too high and contributing to inefficiency, he said.

Sri Lanka is preparing a law to facilitate the Megapolis project including a Western Province Megapolis Authority.

Large cities have inherent advantages for innovation and also for specialization, which smaller cities cannot support.
 
The Western region now had a population of about 5.8 million or 29 percent of Sri Lanka’s population.

By 2040 about 9 million people are expected to be in the area.

Ranawaka said the Megapolis would create an environment to propel Sri Lanka into a "high income developed country" through agglomeration and transforming physical and institutional infrastructure.

It will have a guiding philosophy of Economic Growth and Prosperity, Social Equity and Harmony Environmental Sustainability and Individual Happiness he said. (Colombo/Jan23/2016)

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