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Litigation against Sri Lankan parties will happen as usual within Port City

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Litigation against or from Sri Lankan parties with entities within the Port City is expected to follow the current status quo. Employment laws for Sri Lankan citizens are also expected to be the same as it is within the rest of the country. The legal framework that is expected to change is those that are explicitly mentioned in the act. On a procedural front, it is expected that regulatory bodies will open offices in Port City to improve the ease of doing business.

Nithya Partners Lawyer Naomal Goonewardena said, “Litigation for disputes with Sri Lankans will have to happen as normal.” Goonewardena further emphasized that the Port City commission would act as a single-window for investors but that the commission would have to defer decisions to the relevant regulator.

Goonewardena was speaking on June 3 to the CFA Society of Sri Lanka in a virtual conversation on the Port City Commission Bill. Under current Sri Lankan law there is no scope for the SEC to regulate investment banking.

The current legal framework does not put under the purview of the SEC large groups of capital market players. This is likely to change shortly. Goonewardane said, “The new SEC act talks about regulating market intermediaries that are not regulated. Corporate Finance Advisors, investment managers, investment analysts, and financial planners.”

It is expected that it will be easy for an investment bank to establish itself within Port City. It is expected that Banks of Sri Lankan origin will establish offshore banking centres in Port City. Laws surrounding the hiring and retirement benefits for workers are expected to remain unchanged.

As the objective of the bill is to encourage foreign investment into Sri Lanka there is no scope for an entity to raise funds domestically for their investments in Port City from domestic banking channels.

Strategic Development Projects will need approval from the cabinet and finally parliament.

CHEC Port City Colombo Assistant Managing Director Thulci Aluwihare noted that over 100 hectares are currently available in the Port City for construction. There are currently commitments for mixed-use developments for 15 hectares. The first phase of the project is expected to be complete in 10 years with over 70 hectares developed.

Aluwihare said, “Our sales velocity will not be what it is like in Dubai 10 years ago but the interest in Sri Lanka remains good.”

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