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Project company to pump in additional US $ 1bn to Port City

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Says additional investment is for vertical development
Calls for urgent attention on proposed Special Economic Zone
Says formulation and implementation of a coherent policy framework essential for Port City to move forward
Says mixed reactions observed from potential investors following Easter attacks

By Shabiya Ali Ahlam

The Colombo Port City will witness the injection of an additional investment with its project developing company, China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC), coming forward to pump in a further US $ 1 billion.

A senior representative of CHEC Port City Colombo said that the additional investment affirms the commitment and confidence the project company has in the venture.

“Instilling confidence right now is key. We, as the project company, came forward to invest US $ 1.4 billion and now we have come forward again to invest another US $ 1 billion,” shared CHEC Port City Colombo Strategy and Business Development Head Thulci Aluwihare.

While the initial US $ 1.4 billion was for reclamation, the additional US $ 1 billion is for vertical development, he told a recent webinar on the economic impact assessment of the Colombo Port City.

According to Aluwihare, based on a market sounding exercise, a mixed reaction is observed from investors at present.

“Some of the investors, post-Easter Sunday attacks, are taking a wait-and-see approach, whereas some are quite confident in the project.

However, we are in discussion with a number of investors, as we must realise that there is a lot of competition in the region. For the Port City to be positioned as an attractive proposition, we need to really differentiate and be competitive in attracting that foreign capital,” said Aluwihare.

One of the key areas that requires urgent attention is the proposed Special Economic Zone (SEZ), which he stressed is crucial for Sri Lanka to be able to market and position the Port City to lure in investments.

Further, Aluwihare asserted that the formulation and implementation of a coherent policy framework is also essential for the Port City to move forward.

While Sri Lanka is a latecomer to the highly competitive international game of urban development through SEZ in Asia and the Middle East, an analysis by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Sri Lanka highlighted that the country has a twin advantage of leveraging its strategic geographical location and drawing on the experience of SEZs elsewhere, on what works and what does not.

PwC in its report stated that putting in place good national economic policies and a competitive SEZ framework would markedly improve the odds for the Port City to succeed over time, despite the economic challenges faced.

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