Port City awaits legal framework to launch marketing campaign | Sunday Observer

Port City awaits legal framework to launch marketing campaign

19 January, 2020
A CCCC official presents the Social Responsibility Report to Secretary, Urban Development, Water Supplies and Housing Facilities Ministry, Dr. Priyath Bandu Wickrama.
A CCCC official presents the Social Responsibility Report to Secretary, Urban Development, Water Supplies and Housing Facilities Ministry, Dr. Priyath Bandu Wickrama.

Marking a new dimension in the social responsibility arena, Port City Colombo launched the Social Responsibility Report reinforcing its commitment to society focusing on the aspects of value, integration, livelihood, quality and eco-friendliness in the project.

“The Port City is a new momentum of development and will be a world class city in South Asia. It will also strengthen people-to-people connectivity. The construction process will strive to drive local employment, enhance skills development, while promoting and upgrading local industries. It will have a positive impact on livelihood and transfer of technology,” Chairman, China Communications Construction Company Ltd., Liu Qitao said.

Port City Colombo is a flagship project between China and Sri Lanka under the Belt and Road Initiative which will promote the country’s economic and social development. The project while will enrich cultural integration towards the improvement of human life will create a new economic engine to drive Sri Lanka to new heights, he said.

“We are waiting until the legal framework is completed, which is likely to be finalised after May. Following which we plan to promote the investment opportunities in Colombo Port City,” Secretary, Urban Development, Water Supplies and Housing Facilities Ministry, Dr. Priyath Bandu Wickrama said on the sidelines of the launch of Port City Social Responsibility Report 2018-2019 in Colombo.

A Cabinet-approved working committee has been appointed to review and accelerate the joint venture with CHEC Port City, a unit of China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) which is the largest international engineering contractor in China.

However, the progress of the proposed legal framework is set to come to a standstill due to the forthcoming parliamentary elections in March-April.

The proposed legal framework is expected to bring in foreign investment, including land ownership.

The Central Bank recently announced that the proposed Banking Act, which is to be enacted in 2021, would contain provisions to extend regulations to banks, which are to be set up in the Colombo International Financial Centre (CIFC) in Colombo Port City.

The Colombo Port City project spans over 269 hectares of reclaimed land from the sea, of which 178 hectares would be marketable land with the gross floor area up to 5.73 million square meters.

CHEC Port City has obtained 116 hectares of this land on a 99-year lease and it is responsible for the investment, financing, planning and construction of the project as well as the construction of supporting facilities at the project site.

Dr. Wickrama emphasised that three to four projects would commence this year and each project would require a minimum of US $ 300-400 million investment.

He said that investors from the Middle East, Singapore and India have also shown a keen interest in the project.

The CIFC aims to fill the gap between the international financial centres of Dubai and Singapore by attracting major international financial institutions to settle in and effectively promote the development of the financial industry in Sri Lanka and South Asia.

However, a senior official attached to the Colombo Port City project revealed that the first project to commence would be a yacht marina, which already has several foreign investors.

The recreation and entertainment complex, shopping resort, five-star hotels and marina are anticipated to attract high-spending tourists from across the world and help Colombo to transform from a tourist hub to a tourist destination. CHEC Port City plans to complete the construction of the beach, marina and Central Park by 2022, while the completion of phase one of the CIFC and first hospitality plot is scheduled for 2023.

“Based on the demand for land plots, the government and project company would release land plots to the market for investments,” he said.

Colombo Port City was established as an urban development area last year under the Urban Development Authority (UDA), bringing all the development activities on the reclaimed land under the purview of the regulations and supervision of the UDA after it was declared as part of the Colombo district. “The Government will sign all the lease agreements with investors,” Dr. Wickrama added.

A new entity is also expected to be set up to manage the activities of Colombo Port City as a joint venture between the government and CHEC Port City

The CCCC has committed to invest US $ 1.4 billion to undertake land reclamation, construction of marine structures, including construction of breakwater barrier and infrastructure development. The project company has already invested nearly US $ 800 million while creating 500 employment opportunities.

CHEC Port City completed the reclamation of 269 hectares of land from the ocean in January last year and all marine structures were completed in August.

Phase one of the Port City infrastructure constructions commenced in July 2018 and is scheduled for completion next year.

The project, upon completion in 2041, is expected to draw foreign investments estimated at US $ 13 billion.