Singapore property tycoon and Chairman of Overseas Realty Ceylon Plc S.P. Tao (centre), Senior Minister Dr. Sarath Amunugama (right) and Overseas Realty Deputy Chairman H.Z. Cassim share a hearty smile at the ceremony to mark the commissioning of the final phase of US$ 350 million Havelock City in Colombo 6 yesterday – Pic by Dinuka Liyanawatte
By Cheranka Mendis
The foreign trailblazer of Colombo’s skyline S.P. Tao though 94 years old is still passionate about Sri Lanka and confident of greater prosperity in post-war era.
Having built the iconic World Trade Centre Echelon Square midst war as well as embarking on a further mega commercial and residential project via Havelock City, Tao has stood firm on Sri Lanka.Despite his old age and health conditions, he was flown down from Singapore to personally see the commissioning of the last phase of the Havelock City.
“The investment for the project was never a question, only the commercial viability of the project was at stake. Now that things are getting back to normal and with Sri Lanka poised to achieve economic prosperity, the project will be a significant one waving in other investors to follow my footsteps,” Tao said during the ceremony yesterday.
“The nature and scale of development would be similar to those in Hong Kong and Singapore,” he added.
“The peace that we now experience and the strong and stable government providing the leadership for fast tracking development of the country is a strong signal that the time is more appropriate for us to realise our property development potential of Sri Lanka and be ready.
What we now see is tremendous opportunity for urbanisation of cities which will naturally add fillip to the real estate business,” Tao emphasised.
“In three years, you will see the change in Colombo’s skyline,” he claimed adding, “but it is not just the skyline that will change. The way of life for Colombo city will also change, going with the tagline ‘city within a city’ the project with its new concepts and designs for urban living will transform lifestyles and lives and create for Sri Lanka what it has never experienced before.”
Tao who has been a friend of Sri Lanka ever since 1941 when he visited the island for rest and recreation said that he “fell in love with the country ever since then. I stayed at Mount Lavinia and ever since then Sri Lanka has always stayed closer to my heart.”
On the project he said, “It is not just business for me; it gives a personal feeling of contentment to see this project coming into life.”
Senior Minister for International Monetary Cooperation Dr. Sarath Amunugama who was also present at the event thanked Tao for “giving Sri Lanka this magnificent gift which will be well fitted in the growth the country is now expecting.” Claiming that Tao was one of the greatest friends of Sri Lanka and a true visionary investor, the Minister praised him for investing in Sri Lanka even when others were not optimistic in the country.
“In the economic growth envisaged for Sri Lanka there is a role for big mega projects as they could be game changers for Sri Lanka. The Havelock City project will likely be the biggest game changer for Sri Lanka and would take Sri Lanka from a middle grade country to one which could successfully compete in the world arena,” Amunugama said. Such projects would add to the image Sri Lanka is looking to create in the global market as a successful investment opportunity.