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The SL state’s enduring role in the CHEC Port City Colombo project



By Lynn Ockersz

The Sri Lankan state will exercise sovereign control over the CHEC Port City Colombo project and would remain accountable to the people of Sri Lanka by virtue of the fact that the project would remain open to scrutiny by the Sri Lankan parliament, Assistant Managing Director, CHEC Port City Colombo (Pvt) Ltd. Thulci Aluwihare told ‘The Island Financial Review’ in an interview.

Besides, all revenues received by the project would be remitted to Sri Lanka’s Consolidated Fund and would remain within the country, Aluwihare pointed out in a wide-ranging interview with this newspaper, where he debunked the allegation that the CHEC Port City Colombo project will be a ‘sell out’ to the Chinese, rendering the investment area a ‘Çhinese colony’. Besides, the Colombo Port City would not turn Sri Lanka into a ‘money laundering haven.”

Elaborating Aluwihare said: ‘Principal among our aims is the attraction of foreign investment to the country. $ 1.4 billion has been spent by the project company over reclaiming the relevant land from the sea. For a consideration, the state has granted a ‘No Lease Hold Right’ over 116 hectares of the project land which is the ‘master lease’. Under this arrangement 48 marketable blocks of land would be on offer for investment. What is of importance is that in all these transactions the state will be a principal party.

“Even if an investor obtains a “No Lease Hold Right” from the state in respect of a project, the investor would need to obtain a licence from the CHEC Port City Commission to operate. The Commission would issue such licenses with conditions. And the Commission holds the right to revoke such licenses if the conditions are not met.

“In all these transactions, the government of Sri Lanka is the lessor. The investor would be signing a lease with the government of Sri Lanka, who will be the landlord.

‘The majority of members of the Commission would be Sri Lankans. But we need experienced, competent people for this apex body. Accordingly, the Commission needs to enjoy some autonomy and independence as well in employing personnel.

“The anti-money laundering laws that have been operative in this country would continue to be enforced strongly. It is only loose regulatory laws that lead to problems like money laundering. But there will be no let-up by Sri Lanka on this score. The monetary authorities would continue to stringently apply the regulations but these regulations should also need to be market-driven. We expect sophisticated transactions though.

‘It is important to point out that the local courts will have jurisdiction in the Port City. Here too there is no dilution of the state’s sovereignty.

“Our region has progressed into a services economy. We need to compete with countries such as Singapore, India, Indonesia and Vietnam, for example, to attract FDI. You need to offer fiscal and other incentives to attract FDI to Sri Lanka. A dip of 40 per cent of FDI in Sri Lanka last year, drives the point home. But given our location, we are in a position to talk about Sri Lanka as a business destination.

“Of principal importance is the supply chain impact the Port City project would have on Sri Lanka. Local enterprises dealing with the Port City will be paid in dollars and not local currency. Even Sri Lankan SMEs which are part of the supply chain will be paid in dollars. There is also potential for local employment generation where the income earners will be paid in dollars.

“At present there are some 4000 employment opportunities for locals in the Port City. Currently, 1500 to 1800 locals are employed in the project. So, there are growing opportunities for locals in this initiative. They would get the opportunity to work for some the world’s most prominent brands in their own backyard and for dollar remuneration.

‘Sri Lanka produces 25,000 graduates annually. One third of these belong to the science, technology, engineering, mathematics and allied fields. But 20 to 25 percent of these graduates migrate. Our graduates could now work for a multinational company if the opportunities offered by the Port City project are availed of.”



Sri Lanka all set for Expo 2020 Dubai



EXPO 2020 DUBAI is the latest edition of World Expos held around the world since 1851 and will be the first ever to be held in the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia. Sri Lanka will participate in the mega-event which commences in October (01st October 2021 – 31st March 2022) and is expected to attract over 25 million visitors to Dubai during its six-month run. One of the key facets of the Sri Lankan contingent will be the specially designed Pavilion which was officially handed over by the Dubai Expo team to Mr.Nalinda Wijerathna, Deputy Commissioner General Sri Lanka for Expo and Consul General of Sri Lanka to Dubai and the Northern Emirates on the 14th of September, 2021. Accompanying Mr.Nalinda Wijerathna at the handover was Mrs. Subashini De Silva, Second Secretary at the Sri Lankan Consulate in Dubai.

The pavilion with its water-based theme was designed by a team from the University of Moratuwa and has been recognized as one of the best designs at Expo 2020 Dubai. The pavilion showcases the hydraulic civilization in a touristic perspective bringing out the 3 positioning pillars of Authenticity, Compactness and Diversity while taking visitors on a journey through history, culture, nature, people, and many facets of the destination through storytelling to inspire and showcase Sri Lanka to the world. Silent display screens at the pavilion will feature the unique facets of the island in all its wonder and awe.

The Pavilion will be segmented into zones to represent the many diverse facets of Sri Lanka. Zone 1 will display a cross-section of Sri Lanka’s multiple dimensions, zone 2 will focus on the island’s unique Ecology, Biodiversity, and Ecosystems, while zone 3 will give participants an insight into the island’s awe-inspiring history with a display based on the Islands ancient kingdoms. Zone 4 is dedicated to Economy and Trade Development and zone 5 will showcase local craftsmen and artisans with a masked wall and retail area. The specially designed Pavillion is a breathtaking mix of heritage, history, local style, and the latest technology. This will give participants a glimpse of island life in all its splendor, helping create interest that will attract both visitors and investors. The entire experience is designed to be personal, immersive, and memorable, conveying the island’s warm, sunny personality and exotic character.

Speaking about this landmark event Ms. Kimarli Fernando – Chairperson SL Tourism and the Commissioner General Sri Lanka for Expo, had this to say. ‘Expo 2020 Dubai was an event that came to Sri Lanka Tourism at the eleventh hour!! Despite all constraints and barriers, we made it this far and created a global platform for Sri Lanka to be showcased at this international event. We have created tourism, trade and investment opportunities at Expo which we are sure will generate great growth avenues for Sri Lanka. We are also blessed with amazing partners and great support extended from Expo Dubai team. Sri Lanka Tourism is looking forward for a successful event in Dubai’.

Sri Lanka Tourism has built a collision in presenting Sri Lanka strong and vibrant at Expo 2020 Dubai in partnership with the Sri Lanka Embassy in UAE and the Consulate in Dubai, Gem & Jewelry Authority, Export Development Board, Sri Lanka Tea Board, Laksala, Board of Investment, Port City, Sri Lankan Airlines, and the National Chamber of Exporters. The event will provide an extraordinary opportunity for many organisations that make up the local contingent, including commercial opportunities that will enable a more robust and strengthened local economy. With over 190 countries participating in the event, there will be a wealth of interest in Sri Lanka’s unique arts, crafts, cuisine, and culture. Destination Sri Lanka will be telling its story through the creative use of song, dance, cultural events, and a host of strategically targeted programmes.

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Lower motor vehicle imports contribute towards narrowing 2020 trade deficit by approx. USD 2 billion



‘Since importation of motor vehicles into Sri Lanka takes a significant portion of the total import bill of the country, that is 3 per cent in 2020, reduction in motor vehicle imports contributed largely towards narrowing the trade deficit. Accordingly, the trade deficit contracted notably by around USD 2 billion in 2020, a Ceylon Chamber of Commerce press release, announcing the release of the latest Motor Vehicle Industry Report, covering key trends in 2019 and 2020, said.

The release:

This publication prepared by the Economic Intelligence Unit of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (CCC) provides a detailed analysis and overview of Sri Lanka’s motor vehicle Industry covering both 2019 and 2020. The report features the latest information on economic contribution of the industry, motor vehicle registration, ownership transfers, population, imports of motor vehicles (a detailed analysis by vehicle category and HS code), issuance of driving licenses, recent regulatory developments, the way forward and global motor vehicle industry.

The report highlights that both 2019 and 2020 were challenging years for Sri Lanka’s motor vehicle industry due to import restriction. As such, imports of motor vehicles recorded a notable decline during last two years, after experiencing a significant growth in 2018. Since importation of motor vehicles into Sri Lanka takes a significant portion of the total import bill of the country (3% in 2020), reduction in motor vehicle imports contributed largely to narrowing of the trade deficit. Accordingly, the trade deficit contracted notably by around USD 2 Bn in 2020 and this contraction was significantly contributed by the lowered motor vehicle imports during the year. The decline in motor vehicle imports resulted in loss of revenue to the government mainly due to fall in collection of excise duty and luxury tax. Due to the fall in imports, there was a 45% drop of motor vehicle new registrations. As such, total registrations of 2020, hit the lowest for the last decade and even lower than the registrations recorded in 2009, when the world experienced the global financial crisis.

To purchase a copy of the report (e-version), contact Saumya Amarasiriwardane, Senior Research Associate, Economic Intelligence Unit of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce on 011-55-888-83/ or online through the Business Publications section of the CCC website (

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Sampath Bank commences restoration of 10th tank under ‘Wewata Jeewayak’ programme



The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the restoration of the Athawetuna Wewa under Sampath Bank’s Wewata Jeewayak initiative being exchanged between G. K. S. Pushpakumara, Assistant Commissioner - Puttalam District, Department of Agrarian Development (left) and Ravindra Gunawardena, Regional Manager, Sampath Bank.

Continuing to empower rural communities across the nation, Sampath Bank embarked on the restoration of the Athawetuna Wewa in Divulwewa, Anamaduwa under its flagship community outreach initiative, Wewata Jeewayak, recently. This is the 10th tank (wewa) in the country to be restored under the programme.

This is yet another timely initiative by the Bank to support the nation and empower its farming communities to overcome the challenges brought about by the global COVID-19 pandemic and rebuild their lives.

The 20-acre Athawetuna Wewa is the primary source of irrigation for over 60 acres of paddy fields. It also plays a key role in animal husbandry and other livelihood development activities in the Divulwewa and neighbouring villages, serving over 500 people.

With no major maintenance work having been carried out for over 20 years, the Athawetuna Wewa’s bund has suffered considerable damage. Its waters have become shallow due to the accumulation of sludge. Its irrigation canal, sluice gates and spill too are in need of repairs. The current dilapidated state of the tank has limited paddy cultivation in the area to one season alone, thereby affecting the livelihoods of the entire community.

Sampath Bank will be working together with the Perakum Farmers Association (Perakum Govi Sanvidanaya); the Department of Agrarian Development, Puttalam District Office, Chilaw; and members of the local community to renovate the tank completely. Rituals were conducted to invoke blessings on the project and the community before members of the Farmers Association commenced work on it.

“At Sampath Bank, we have always appreciated the significance of tanks (wewa) built by our kings. Being instrumental in protecting the environment, they also enable farming and other economic activity in a sustainable manner. As a bank that takes great pride in our Sri Lankan roots, we seek to play an active role in restoring these invaluable treasures and have been working on restoring them through our ‘Wewata Jeewayak’ initiative. We have had the opportunity to transform the lives of thousands of families around the island through the programme,” said Nanda Fernando, Managing Director, Sampath Bank PLC. “It us our privilege to partner with the people of Divulwewa and the Department of Agrarian Development on the renovation of the Athawetuna Wewa. Projects such as this are part of our ongoing efforts to empower all Sri Lankans to reach their true potential as we continue to present their future.”

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