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Financial City legislation to be presented to parliament this year

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From Left- Spa Ceylon Director and Co-Founder Shalin Balasuriya, Chairman SLASSCOM & Co-Founder Hatch Jeevan Gnanam, Nestlé Lanka PLC Managing Director / CEO Shivani Hegde, State Minister of National Policies and Economic Affairs Dr. Harsha De Silva, HIPS CEO Capt. Ravi Jayawickrama, Moderator and N-Able (Pvt) Ltd Chief Executive Officer Peter D’Almeida, CHEC Port City Colombo (Pvt) Ltd Chief Sales & Marketing Officer Liang Thow Ming. Pic by Pradeep Pathirana

* Legal infrastructure and incentives structure being reviewed by top global law firms
* CIFC could become safe haven for Indians

The legislation for the Colombo International Financial City (CIFC) is to be presented to the parliament before end of this year, Deputy Minister of Policy Planning and Economic Development, Dr. Harsha de Silva told Mirror Business.

He noted that the legislation which is in the final stages of completion is being reviewed by three of the top global law firms currently.

Joining a panel discussion yesterday at Sri Lanka Economic Summit 2018, Dr. de Silva said, “We are finalising the legal infrastructure and the incentives structure for CIFC now. Investment incentives pretty much agreed upon. We just need to make it public; we will do it at the right time.

We are not looking at local enterprise here, this is an international financial centre, and this is the most unique piece of real-estate this part of the world.”

Meanwhile, CHEC Port City Colombo (Pvt) Ltd, Chief Sales & Marketing Officer, Liang Thow Ming noted that legal infrastructure is critical to attract investments to the Colombo Port City, which ensures policy stability.

The financial city is expected to function as a special jurisdiction with its own economic and commercial laws to facilitate operations of global multinational corporations and grow as a business and financial hub.

However, Dr. de Silva stressed that the special CIFC legislation would be in accordance with the constitution of the country.

Responding to a query raised by the moderator and N-Able Managing Director and Chief Executive Peter D’Almeida whether the CIFC would end up becoming another Chinese ghost city, Ming said “If you look at between Dubai and Singapore, there is a void of financial centres, Sri Lanka happens to be right in the middle of that . If you look at the South Asian region, there is not really a trade or financial centre, Dubai serves the Middle East while Singapore serves the South-East Asian region.

Surely, there must be a huge market in south Asia. Indians are not parking their money in Dubai, 25 percent of the money that parked in Mauritius coming from India, why can’t we have a share of the market?.”

Giving an update on the progress of construction of the Port City, Ming said that over 90 percent of the reclamation is completed and about 70 percent of the breakwater construction had also been completed up to now, which is to be resumed shortly following the end of the Monsoon season.

He noted that the reclamation would be completed by mid of next year while city infrastructure is expected to be finished by 2020.

Dr. de Silva explained that the current government had changed the concept of the project in order to make it more economically-viable.

“We changed the project from golf courses and entertainment related race tracks to a financial city and to a knowledge city, we changed the entire concept of it,” he said.

The government has already approved a proposal to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) to develop the US$1 billion CIFC building complex on reclaimed land.

Ming noted that 90 percent of high value paying jobs in CIFC would be taken over by locals.

The government expected to inaugurate the CIFC in mid-October this year with the launch of its sales gallery.

CHEC Port City Colombo (Pvt.) Ltd has already invested US$ 1.4 billion in land reclamation in the CIFC and is expected to attract investments worth US$ 13 billion for real estate development until 2041. (NF)

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