Sri Lanka and China strike new land deal
SRI LANKA has signed a new deal to replace a controversial agreement with a Chinese company building a new city within Colombo to remove its freehold rights over reclaimed land after India voiced concerns over the agreement.
The Sri Lankan government said the Chinese investor would be granted new land on a 99-year lease instead of the freehold in the original deal entered into when Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Colombo in 2014.
“The tripartite agreement has many features that are beneficial to Sri Lanka that was lacking in the 2014 agreement that is now being replaced,” the government said.
For its part, the state-owned China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) said it was cooperating with the new Sri Lankan government in entering fresh agreements over the US$1.4 billion investment.
The Sri Lankan government had put the project on hold pending a review of all the big-ticket agreements signed under the previous administration of Mahinda Rajapakse.
The entire project has also been renamed “Colombo International Financial City” instead of the original title of “Port City” given to the reclamation of 269 hectares of land just next to the main Colombo harbour.
CCCC said it expected the project to create 83,000 new jobs and help Sri Lanka attract another $13 billion in direct foreign investment to develop infrastructure within the reclaimed land.
China, the largest single lender to Sri Lanka, secured contracts to build roads, railways and ports under Mr Rajapakse, who is under investigation over allegations of corruption during his decade in power. –
Sri Lankan Megapolis and Western Province Development Ministry secretary Nihal Rupasinghe (right) and China Harbour engineering company director Tang Qiaoliang (left) shake hands during a signing ceremony in Colombo.