Ambassadors’ Forum delivers a much-needed six

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‘Foreign Policy Perspectives: Port City Colombo and International Financial Centre’ covers a wide spectrum of information about the Colombo Port City Project


By Navindu Kalansuriya

Former Ambassador Sarath Wijesinghe PC, as the President of the Ambassadors’ Forum, has been busy with his team of members with several write-ups and conducting seminars, workshops and conferences on many timely topics and subjects. 

In this work series, the regular publication of a book as a collection of contributions from eminent personalities was one of the most welcome happenings acknowledged by many. This review is about their latest publication in this series the ‘Foreign Policy Perspectives: Port City Colombo and International Financial Centre’.  

In keeping with the high standards of presentation and compilation of material as reflected in the previous publications of this forum written by professionals and academics of high esteem, this book covers a wide spectrum of information about the Colombo Port City Project, in a scope of 20 chapters running over 200 pages providing, so to say, A to Z of details encompassing the subject matter. In short it constitutes a comprehensive compendium with all details useful to academics, political commentators and those neutrally interested in fact finding as well as policy formulators. 

The Colombo Port City project and its proposal has been a controversial subject discussed in many forums in a highly critical manner. It is no secret that the politics included in the sphere was more complicated and contentious sometimes with attributed dubiosity. The issue itself attracts much international interest which leads to further concerns in a context of developing international conflicts. The subject therefore is of tremendous importance in this background and ambience. It is interesting to observe how the 20 different writers have confined their focus strictly to the core of each topic with no apparent overlaps.

A cursory glance depicts the ambit of coverage each contributor has dealt with spreading over a broad spectrum into areas dealing with matters starting from its historical perspective to the gestations it was subject to from time to time, and ranging into the future financial benefits, and visionary projections. Many controversies that have cropped up in the beginning with regard to environmental impacts, construction issues and engineering aspects are dealt with in detail by those who are well-versed with such subjects. It is noteworthy that they happen to be personalities who have experienced and directly interacted with such matters. 

In particular the highly sensitive areas including legislative designs and international afflictions have been addressed by experts who have been associated with high level role plays and exposures in the international scenario in the relevant fields. Their professional and specialist incursionary approaches will be extremely fruitful not only in an academic interest but even in the area of policy formulations.

The contributions in general adumbrate conditions and warnings that need to be considered during the initial formative and shaping stages of a project of this unique magnitude. The chapters adequately deal with and hold the attention of the stages of viability, security and a legislative design of the Port City. The writers have also dealt with several sensitive areas of geopolitical concerns and legal issues relating to money laundering and financing of terrorism which will be of great assistance and beneficial for designing new legislation relating to the Port City.   

One other aspect that is considered under these presentations is the perpetuality of the applicable laws which are of a special nature and their influence and impact into a host of domestic affairs. The authors have diligently addressed the importance of overflowing of the beneficial effects of the project towards the advancement of the countries’ domestic affairs in the economic scenario. 

The ongoing discussions about the Colombo Port City were centred on several futuristic concerns in a highly competitive field that already exist in a global context among several other established players. 

There are well over 15 dedicated financial centres spread across all parts of the world with longstanding successful operational histories. Some of the writers in the issue have adequately devoted their knowhow dwelling on the intricacies involved providing much-needed inside information and precautionary guides for safe sailing.

They have followed the trends and evaluated the concept of developing into a hub which would expand into the field of EPZs in the country as some sort of corollary development. What is important to comprehend is that following other nations or SEZs and ECs elsewhere should not be considered as an easy path for emulation. They are directly related to their own domestic situations and conditions. Hence our approach should be innovative based on experience and expertise. 

The panel of contributors to this cherished compendium of articles covering the subject have done their justice to this requirement. Hence there should not be any hesitation to recommend this publication to all those who are interested in the subject in general and the future of our economic development.

Finally, when some issues are impregnated with myths and wrongful information nothing but certain independent and authentic clarification could alleviate such. With a big hand to those eminent personalities who fulfilled that task throwing sufficient light on the subject matter with their valuable contributions we should thank the Ambassadors’ Forum for their worthy initiative.   

(The writer is an Attorney-at-Law.)