- State Minister Semasinghe claims initial talks on Singaporean venture began in 2014, Yahapalanaya dragged feet
- Says UNP cannot criticise step as it changed stance on Port City
- New Govt. expanded project investment by 25%
- Prospective investors holding talks with BOI on Port City
- Insists Govt. focused on attracting FDI, pledges transparency
Development Banks and Loan Schemes State Minister Shehan Semasinghe yesterday slammed criticism of the $250 million mixed development project, which the Government has said will be rolled out as their first foreign investment, insisting that initial talks on the venture began in 2014.
“Discussions on this project began during our Government. It subsequently slowed because there was no positive environment for investment in the country.
Since the UNP was defeated, the Government has not only managed to put the project back on track, but expanded it from $200 million to $250 million. The Opposition is wrong to say we are selling land. There is no such move, it will only be given on a 99-year lease.”
The project by Perennial Real Estate Holdings of Singapore involved a 30-storey commercial tower inclusive of 700 new residencies behind the Shangri La Hotel and One Galle Face Mall.
The State Minister insisted that the Government has “restored the faith of investors” and proved it was “investor friendly”, and was optimistic that Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to the country will improve this year, but declined to commit to any specific targets.
“The UNP cannot criticise us for taking forward this project. They came to power promising to cancel the Port City project, but after being elected, changed their stance completely and took it forward. As of last year, the Port City is ready for investment, and there are interested parties already holding talks with the Board of Investment (BOI). So how can they say we are doing wrong? We are only doing what is best for the country. We assure complete transparency. We can be questioned from the President downwards, and everything we do is for the benefit of Sri Lanka.”
Although the State Minister claimed talks on the project began under the previous Rajapaksa regime, the UPFA criticised the Yahapalanaya Government for approving the move in August 2018. See FT’s exclusive story for more details http://www.ft.lk/front-page/Yahapalana-era-proposal-becomes-first-FDI-for-new-Govt/44-692602