Colombo Port City: A Gold Mine
Colombo Port City (CPC), on the lines of Dubai, Singapore and Hong Kong, will be a gold mine for Sri Lanka. The total land area of CPC is 269 hectares and the total investment is US$ 15 billion. The project is expected to create 83,000 employment opportunities and contribute 11.5% to GDP. However, SLPP Colombo District MP Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe has alleged that the Colombo Port City will not be a part of Sri Lanka once the Colombo Port City Economic Commission Bill comes into effect and this will affect the sovereignty of Sri Lanka. Addressing a Media briefing held at Abhayaramaya, Narahenpita on Thursday (15), Rajapakshe said the Colombo Port City would become a Chinese colony and foreigners can acquire that land and sell it.
He insisted that 1,100 acres allocated for the Colombo Port City is not a part of the Colombo District and is not under the control of the Colombo Municipal Council. Also it could be adduced by the contents of the Bill that it is not considered a part of Sri Lanka. The Government is trying to hand over the Colombo Port City to China through the Port City Economic Commission Bill, said Rajapakshe. He said that certain parts of the Bill were unconstitutional and very dangerous.
The Government has dismissed concerns that Colombo Port City would become a Chinese colony.
State Minister of Money, Capital Markets and State Enterprise Reforms Ajith Nivard Cabraal, responding to criticism that the Colombo Port City would become a colony of China through the proposed Port City Economic Commission Bill, has said that on the contrary the Act would be a turning point for the country’s economy.
State Minister Cabraal has said the Bill proposes to facilitate investment in the Port City. He has said the law of the country also applies to Colombo Port City and all activities in the Colombo Port City are subjected to the laws of the country. He has said the public should not be concerned with regard to the jurisdiction as all investors will come under the purview of the Port City Economic Commission Act.
He has said that there is nothing of any concern with regard to the jurisdiction of this country: “Jurisdiction is exercised through the Port Commission Law”. He has said the Bill would make investing in the Port City more convenient and attractive for the investors and it has been tabled in Parliament in order to attract more investors.
The Bill, titled the ‘Colombo Port City Economic Commission Bill’, provides the legal framework for the setting up of a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) within the Colombo Port City and proposes the establishment of a Commission empowered to grant registrations, licences, authorisations, and other approvals to carry on businesses and other activities in the Special Economic Zone.
Several political parties, civil organisations and the Bar Association of Sri Lanka have challenged the Bill in the Supreme Court pointing out that the Port City Commission to be established will be empowered under the Act to the detriment of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Sri Lanka.
State Minister Cabraal responding to Parliamentarian Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe’s statement that the Port City would become a Chinese colony through this Bill, stressed that nowhere in the Bill, did the Government imply that the Port City would be colonised by China.
He pointed out that the Port City will fall under certain laws including the Municipal Council Act and Town and Country Planning Ordinance and therefore, it will not threaten the country’s sovereignty.
Referring to Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe’s role in the matter, Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage has said that he could have raised questions within the Government Parliamentary Group and asked for necessary clarifications without holding Media briefings.
He said that the Port City would be the watershed in our economy. “The Leader of the Opposition doesn’t want it happen under the present President. We have drafted the Port City Commission Bill within the parameters of constitutional provisions. The Attorney General has expressly said that the Bill is consistent with the Constitution,” the Minister has said.
SJB MP Dr. Harsha de Silva has said while his Party wants the Port City project to succeed for its potential catalyse fin-tech and high-end knowledge services-driven growth, stressed that a solid legal framework is essential. He has pointed out that for this long-term project to succeed it must be consistent with the Constitution of Sri Lanka.