- Tells investor forum in Singapore laws to govern financial city being drafted
- UK has agreed to provide assistance
- Says CIFC must find way to differentiate itself from competitors
- Govt. dedicated to stronger relations with range of countries including India, China and Vietnam
- Says plans laid to make SL developed by 2050 but careful implementation needed
The Colombo International Financial City (CIFC) project is expected to take a step forward in the next two months when laws drafted to govern and lay the groundwork for the venture are presented to Cabinet, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe told a business forum in Singapore yesterday.
The Prime Minister, who embarked on a visit to Singapore on Sunday, outlined the investment expected from the CIFC, more commonly known as the Port City project, at a business forum organised for potential investors in Singapore.
Wickremesinghe noted that even though the Port City project was primarily started as a real estate development venture, his administration had decided it would become an international financial center and was currently working out the modalities of how it should function.
“Land reclamation will be completed next year and construction is expected to start afterwards. There are already several financial centers around the Indian Ocean so it is imperative for us to understand how we can differentiate ourselves. This is a project with a 10-year development plan. A few weeks ago while I was on a tour of Britain I participated in several discussions and the UK has offered us assistance in setting up the financial center,” he said during the question and answer session.
Laws to govern the financial center are already being drafted by top officials and the Government is dedicated to resolving any issues through consultations with the Attorney General, he added. The Prime Minister also said that the laws, once formulated, and their implementation framework ironed out, would be presented to Cabinet in two months.
The CIFC would be a facet in the Sri Lankan Government’s dedication to improve relations with a range of countries including India, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, South Korea, Japan and China, Wickremesinghe said. Outlining extensive plans made by the Government to establish investment corridors to promote exports and investment, the Prime Minister had also spoken about the Western Megapolis project, which has a master plan drafted by Singaporean company Surbana Jurong. The project aims to uplift the living standards of nine million people and rapidly expand Sri Lanka’s economy.
The Prime Minister also responded to queries on entrepreneurship in Sri Lanka, insisting that the country remained dedicated to new ventures and was being assisted by Government funding programs such as ‘Enterprise Sri Lanka’. He went on to acknowledge that funding remained one of the biggest hurdles for entrepreneurs as local banks still followed “traditional” systems when supplying credit.
“We must fast-track providing credit to medium-sized companies. We have to change the banking system and encourage them to assist these companies and introduce an export bias to medium companies.”
Concentrating on building and bringing together these different pieces has resulted in the Government laying the plans for Sri Lanka to become a developed country by 2050, Wickremesinghe told the audience.
“This is a massive challenge and it requires us working very carefully but closely with people who hold a variety of views. We must take forward these plans very carefully and vigilantly.”