Colombo Port City will not be handed over to China, says Minister Cabraal

Ajith Nivard Cabraal, State Minister of Money & Capital Markets and State Enterprise Reforms.

The government will not hand over the Colombo Port City to China through the Port City Economic Commission Bill.

“Once the Bill is passed the Port City would be under Sri Lankan jurisdiction, where all major decisions with regard to it will be taken by the President. The entity would not be detrimental to the territorial integrity of Sri Lanka,” State Minister of Money & Capital Markets and State Enterprise Reforms Ajith Nivard Cabraal said.

“Under the Bill, a Special Economic Commission of the Port City will be set-up and the President will be empowered to appoint five to seven members to  the Commission, which will take all decisions for the Port City Special Economic Zone development activities,” the State Minister told the media.

The press briefing was organised by the Ministry of Finance and held at the Finance Ministry auditorium.

Minister Cabraal said that the total land mass envisaged to be under the Port City is 269 hectares and the Bill titled the ‘Colombo Port City Economic Commission Act’, provides the legal framework for setting up of the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) within the Colombo Port City and proposes the establishment of a Commission empowered to grant registrations, licenses, authorizations and other approvals to carry on businesses and other activities in the Special Economic Zone subjected to Sri Lankan jurisdiction.

Minister Cabraal also said that parliament will oversee the Port City’s activities. Financial, legal and other administrative activities will be governed and regulated by the Sri Lankan government. Financial activities will be done with concurrence of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka and the relevant law and order and jurisdiction will be subjected to local jurisdiction.

Cabraal added, “Once the businesses are established there will be 85000 new employment opportunities and those employees will not be subjected to the Inland Revenue Law of the country. All companies have to be registered under the Commission and the Commission will impose a one percent tax on all the set up companies’ turnover. All taxes and all area related taxes will be imposed by the Commission and credited to the Consolidated Fund and in turn will go to the Inland Revenue Department”.

“Only foreign direct investors will invest in the Port City and local investors are not permitted to invest in it. The Commission will also set up a one- stop-shop, which takes all the decisions in setting up offshore banking, promoting tourism, IT and BOP companies, port and shipping companies and any other business related entities. But foreign legal and accounting firms cannot be set up,” he noted.

“All company registering, licensing, approvals and regulation of activities will be done by the Commission in consultation with the government and regulatory bodies. Further, the Administrative District Act which was passed in 2019 recognised that the Port City is a part of Sri Lanka,” the Minister also said.