Sri Lanka and China strike new land deal

The Myanmar Times - - Business -

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. –

Photo: AFP

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.

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