Sri Lanka’s fragmented state land hinders tourism development: minister

ECONOMYNEXT- The fragmentation of state land among different institutions is hindering tourism development in Sri Lanka, a minister said, according to the state information office.

Speaking at a meeting with provincial councils on Friday, Tourism and Aviation Minister Prasanna Ranatunga said there are difficulties on tourism development as suitable land falls under different arms of the state.

The meeting was held to discuss plans to reach 10 billion US dollars in tourism revenue by 2025.

Tourism is Sri Lanka’s third largest foreign exchange earner after worker remittances and apparel, generating 4.3 billion US dollars in 2018.

There is no national database on state land, which is estimated to make up 82 percent of Sri Lanka’s total area.

Studies the former government commissioned had found that availability and usage of land was a major constraint to Sri Lanka’s development, which prompted the state land database with the help of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC).

A component of the 480 million US dollar MCC grant included the setting up of a database of state land so that development could take place at a faster rate.

However, the current government has put the MCC grant on hold and has appointed a committee to evaluate it.

During the Presidential Election, the winning Sri Lanka Podujana Party had made the MCC grant one of its main campaign planks, alleging that the land project would allow foreign companies to buy land in the country.

The SLPP had said it was against the land project but was favourable of the MCC’s transport infrastructure development component.

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