Sri Lanka is offering a compromise that could allow a major Chinese-backed real estate project to restart after months of delays, Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake told Reuters on Monday.
The minister's comments come a week before a parliamentary election in which the ruling party has an edge over an opposition led by Mahinda Rajapaksa. The China-friendly ex-president, who was ousted in January, is attempting a comeback.
The $1.4 billion Colombo port city project was suspended by President Maithripala Sirisena's new government in March because it was found not to have the proper permits and approvals.
The project, emblematic of China's strategy of developing a maritime Silk Road from Asia to Europe, has alarmed Sri Lanka's larger neighbour India which sees it as a threat in its backyard and has been sympathetic to Sirisena's reformist rule.
One stumbling block has been the planned acquisition by Chinese developers of 20 hectares of freehold land for the waterfront project, which lies a stone's throw from the business district of Sri Lanka's largest city.
The construction of the Colombo-Kandy Central Expressway is to be implemented in four phases by dividing its full length into four parts according to the recommendations of the Cabinet Subcommittee on Economic Affairs.
The first phase would be from Kadawatha to Meerigama with the loan assistance from China EXIM Bank. The second would be the Meerigama to Kurunegala stretch (with the Ambepussa link) which is to be funded by the Asian Development Bank
The administration of all state banks, the Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation, SrLankan Airlines and several other institutions have been brought under the purview of the State Enterprises Development Ministry by the incumbent government.
The Minister in charge of this Ministry is Kabeer Hashim while his Deputy is Eran Wickremaratne.
Earlier, the Bank of Ceylon, People’s Bank, National Savings Bank, State Mortgage & Investment Bank, Housing Development & Finance Corporation, Lankaputhra Development Bank, Regional Development Bank, Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation etc were under the Finance Ministry.
Apart from these, Bogola Graphite Lanka Limited, Lanka Porcelain, Kahagolla Engineering Services Limited, BCC Company Limited, State Resources Management Corporation, Hotel Developers (Private) Limited, Mihin Lanka Limited, Lakdiva Engineering Services Limited, Werahera Engineering Services Limited, Janatha Estates Development Board, Sri Lanka State Plantations Corporation, Elkaduwa Plantations Limited, Kurunegala Plantations Limited, Gal Oya Plantations Limited, Sri Lanka Cashew Corporation etc come under the State Enterprise Development Ministry.