Oct 20, Colombo: The reclamation of the port city is expected to be completed by 2019 and the first investment on the reclaimed land was expected to begin by mid next year which would be an investment of US$ one billion, said Law and Order Minister Sagala Ratnayaka addressing the Sri Lanka Retailers' Association first AGM in Colombo on Tuesday.
The Minister also said that the ground breaking of the Hambantota Industrial Zone was scheduled to take place on November 4.
Minister Ratnayaka said that there was no doubt that the port city would be the best piece of real estate in the entirety of South East Asia, a state of the art well planned modern city where the Colombo Financial Center would be based. This would result in continuous investment over the next 10 years as the city continues to be developed and this will result in the change of the whole city line. To support these development roads will be built connecting the port city to the marine drive and the airport highway.
The government was also working on setting up other industrial zones in Bingiriya, in the Matugama area, and the Weligama Charly Mount Estate will be locally developed as an industrial zone and the government hoped to go for a JV with India over it, he said.
Ratnayaka said that this year FDI has grown by 88 percent and it was likely that the full year figure will cross the US$ one billion figure. The BOI outside the G2G and the Hambantota investments is also targeting US$ 1.6 billion for next year and an excess of US$ two billion for 2019.
He said that tourism was also been revamped with the Tourism Strategy 2020 being worked out. The government is also focused on developing the tourist industry to be a US$ 7 billion business by 2020, he said.
Minister Ratnayaka also outlined that there will be further investment in the Hambantota port with the joint venture and first of all about US$ one billion will be coming into the country. The debt burden of the Hambantota port will come off with this and then the joint venture will invest on the equipment that was needed which will be about US$ 600 million.
Ratnayaka said that the BOI is being revamped and it is being strengthened to be a proactive agency as opposed to being a reactive agency and a regulator and a significant amount of work has been done in the last few months.
The new Exchange Management Act introduces and the old draconian Act has been abolished, exporters will own their money and there will be a reduction on the controls of exports.
The Minister also said with the new Inland Revenue Act the tax regime has been simplified and with that there will be clarity and consistency. Although the highways initially ran into problems the government has ironed out the issues and now the Southern highway was progressing, Central expressway was on track and they were also considering the Ratnapura highway and with these developments there will also be a good road network as well.
The minister said the budget has had wide consultations and they would present the most progressive budget in recent times. Above all they have strengthened 'Brand Sri Lanka' establishing freedom, democracy and good governance in the country which has led to international stakeholders regaining confidence in the country with a level playing field been ensured, the Minister added.