In The Press

Cabinet gives approval to draft Colombo Ports Commission Bill


- The bill to facilitate Port City to become competitive investment hub
- Aimed at making Port City SL’s first service-oriented specialised economic zone The Cabinet of Ministers this week approved a proposal to instruct the Legal Draftsman to draft the Colombo Ports Commission Bill to enable Colombo Port City to become a competitive investment hub in the region.

The proposal was presented on Monday to the Cabinet of Ministers by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa in line with ‘Vistas of prosperity and Splendour,’ the government’s policy statement.

The proposed legislation is expected to make the Colombo Port City the country’s first service-oriented specialised economic zone, and its activities would come under the administration of a new entity named ‘Colombo Ports Commission’.

“Attention is now focused on making the Colombo Port City a Specialised Eoonomic Center with a wide scope of service to the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia, and an excellent regional hub aimed at servicing economy in line with “Vistas of prosperity and Splendour”, the current Government Policy Statement,” the Department of Government Information said.

“For this purpose, it is necessary to create an active environment that can compete with investment hubs such as Dubai, Singapore, and Hong Kong, by attracting investors, entrepreneurs, innovators, companies, financial institutions through a well-structured and competitive legal, tax and regulatory, and dispute resolution mechanism,” it added.

The proposed legislation, also known as soft infrastructure, is considered to be crucial for the Port City to be able to market and position competitively. However, it was delayed over the past few years.

The new government after coming into power appointed a three-member Cabinet committee to review the progress of the draft law prepared during the last regime. The committee completed its review last year.

In November last year, Prime Minister and Finance Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa announced that the new legal framework of the Port City would be presented to the Parliament within the first month of 2021.

The government is expected to present an attractive tax concession for businesses that would move to the specialised economic zone, and at the moment, the government grants concessions under the reactivated Strategic Development Projects Act. The land reclamations of 269-hectares and infrastructure development Colombo Port City has been funded by CHEC Port City, a unit of China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) Limited, at an estimated cost of US$ 1.4 billion.

In return, CCCC has received 116 hectares of the marketable land on a 99-year lease and the government owns the remaining 62 hectares along with 91 hectares of land allocated to be used as public spaces. The Colombo Port City is projected to contribute US$ 11.8 billion to Sri Lanka’s economy per annum upon completion, according to an independent study carried out by PricewaterhouseCoopers. (NF)