Colombo Business Centre is the first step to be a financial and business hub: Major step for Colombo Port City Development

Colombo Port City, Sri Lanka’s most ambitious development project, has marked a significant milestone this week with the ground-breaking ceremony for its premier business park, the Colombo Business Centre. This Centre, which will become operative in six months, is formulated to create a robust environment that will enable global megacorps to operate from Sri Lanka.

To create an attractive environment for investors and business leaders, major regulation reforms will be enacted shortly to ensure ease of doing business within the Port City. Special status and a host of exemptions and special incentives will be accorded to businesses that will have a broad economic impact.

Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena extended an invitation to all nations to encourage their businesses to take advantage of this opportunity, and to be a part of what will become a key service hub to this region in the future.

As an island strategically located at the centre of the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka has been a hub that connected the east and the west since ancient times. Today, Sri Lanka has outstanding port infrastructure that can facilitate transshipment and provide world-class services even for the largest container ships. Sri Lanka also contributes greatly towards maintaining maritime security in this region, helping protect vital sea lines of communication on behalf of all nations.

Strategic plan

The new Port City Colombo, a joint venture between the Sri Lankan state and China Harbour Engineering Corporation, has 100 hectares of land ready for construction. In the next five-year strategic plan, 20 plots, in total of 60 hectares of land adjacent to Colombo’s central business district, have been identified for the pilot projects.

Chief Guest at the groundbreaking ceremony for construction of the Colombo Business Centre, Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena said the new Business Centre of Colombo Port City stands as a testament to Sri Lanka’s ambitious vision of making the island-nation a thriving business hub and a vibrant maritime cluster.

The Business Centre will feature distinct zones, an IT Park, and a Commercial District with a focus on sustainability through modern workspaces like garden offices, CHEC Port City Colombo Ltd., said. Strategically located within close proximity to Colombo’s existing central business district, the Business Centre offers a unique commercial ecosystem for diverse businesses.

Colombo Business Centre aims to be an important catalyst for Sri Lanka’s growth and for the entire region. This project, the largest public-private partnership in Sri Lankan history to date, underscores the government’s commitment to becoming a regional leader in technology and commerce.

The parliament of Sri Lanka recently approved a comprehensive incentives programme proposed by the Commission in consultation with the Minister of Investment Promotion, in relation to the guidelines for granting exemptions or incentives to businesses designated as Businesses of Strategic Importance.

The regulations enacted will make Colombo Port City a globally competitive SEZ with transparent regulations and good governance principles, along with proposed sector incentives.

One of the advantages of the Colombo Business Centre would be to reverse the current ‘brain-drain’. Employment opportunities that are to be generated following the completion of the Business Centre would not be attractive to Sri Lankan professionals but also for the Sri Lankan skilled personnel who left the country for greener pastures during the recent economic downturn.

Export orientation

The business centre consists of a technology hub in Block 1 and Commercial Hub in Block 2. The technology hub is to cater to IT companies for software development, consulting, startups, and Research and Development within a space of approximately 67,200 square feet with four office buildings and a central courtyard at the main entrance of each building.

Block 2 is dedicated to banking and finance, and admin and trade services. It spreads within approximately 27,600 square feet of leasable area.

As President Ranil Wickremesinghe declared in Parliament earlier this month, Sri Lanka’s pursuit of becoming an export-oriented nation, and Sri Lanka aims to be the economic and service hub in the South Asian region, with plans to make the Colombo Port City an international financial hub. Once fully operational, Port City Colombo is the country’s single largest development and foreign direct investment to date and is poised to contribute $13.8 billion annually to Sri Lanka’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), offering over 140,000 direct employment opportunities.

Speaking at the ceremony, Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena described the new Colombo Port City as the most significant event marking the advent of Sri Lanka’s most ambitious development project in recent times. “Colombo Port City is a visionary multibillion-dollar project that aims to redefine Sri Lanka’s economic and social landscape. Built on reclaimed land, adjacent to the heart of Sri Lanka’s capital, Colombo, PCC will offer a cosmopolitan lifestyle, world-class infrastructure, and sustainable living,” he said.

Economic prosperity

Chinese Ambassador Qi Zhenhong said the groundbreaking of the Business Centre was another milestone in Sri Lanka-China bilateral cooperation. It will send a strong message to the international community that Sri Lanka is back on track, thereby enabling the island to attract more investment. He said throughout history, China and Sri Lanka have always enjoyed outstanding friendship. No matter what difficulty Sri Lanka has encountered, China has stood and will always stand with the people.

“Port City Colombo serves as a powerful engine that plays a crucial role in helping Sri Lanka recover its economy and achieve prosperity. As a result, both our countries attach great importance to this flagship project,” the Ambassador added.

Colombo Port City Economic Commission Chairman Dinesh Weerakkody recalled that when President Ranil Wickremesinghe in July 2022 asked him to take over the Chairmanship of the Commission, the Colombo Port City largely resembled a desert and key regulations were non-existent.

“Fast forward 15 months, today many of the key ground infrastructure is now complete. Most of the regulations are done or in the pipeline. However, one of the key regulations – the Banking Regulations required to ensure free movement of capital remains to be completed with the support of the CBSL,” Weerakkody said.

He described the groundbreaking ceremony as an important occasion, and once completed, the Business Centre will pave the way to bring in the key services into the Colombo Port City. Hence, he said the groundbreaking ceremony was more than just a construction milestone whilst it’s a symbol of Port City’s commitment to move the project to the next phase of development.

Dismissing the unfounded allegations against the Port City project, he said despite the bashing it gets sometimes in the press internationally and locally, this is the largest FDI and PPP in Sri Lanka’s history and has the potential of adding $15 billion to the GDP annually.

The Port City Economic Commission offers a single-window solution for ensuring an efficient experience to our stakeholders. The Chairman said that the Colombo Port City is soon to be renamed as the Colombo Financial City. The Framework agreement signed recently for $1.56 billion for Phase 2 development of Colombo Port City is expected to break ground soon along with the setting up of a Convention Centre. These projects can provide the next wave of economic growth for the country,” he said.

Dr Weerakkody added that the Port City Project will transform the fortunes of Sri Lanka. “To make that vision a reality, all Sri Lankans irrespective of their ideological differences need to understand the vision and work collaboratively to realise that vision, for the sake of the next generation and the generations to come.”

The Business Centre signifies a critical landmark, reinforcing Sri Lanka’s position as a destination for innovation, commercial growth, and success. The future is bright, the future is in Asia, and Sri Lanka is ready for investment offering sustainable development for a business-enabling environment.

Source: Read More

Make an Inquiry
Please fill in your details below and we will get back to you with more information

    Investment Interest*