BENEFITS OF COLOMBO PORT CITY SHOULD GO TO THE DEVELOPMENT OF RURAL SRI LANKA
Posted on April 20th, 2021

BY EDWARD THEOPHILUS

Before start work in Colombo Port City, I published several articles explaining how it positively impacts the economy of Sri Lanka. The concept of port city development has been attracted in many countries and some are successful others are not successful as expected. Sri Lanka needs to invent new strategies for its development and growth and, the port city may be one that could be successfully used with many limits.  Before beginning it was a dream when it graduating a reality many antagonisms emerged with different political opinions and unknown forces and motives.  When looks at many criticisms of different personnel it shows that people have no good understanding of the concept many are groping in dark. The highest risk associated with the concept of the port city is economic socks which may come from internally or externally in the future due to various reasons especially economic reasons.  The government of Sri Lanka must plan how to absorb socks and otherwise, the entire country may relegate to obscurities or it may be a colony of bondholders. Many critics have not clearly explained this situation people to understand.

The Colombo Port City development should be in the way how Hong Kong had been developed under British rule. Investors might not interest in the negative attitudes of some people. The priority of investors in the port city will be returns for the investment and the government needs developing policies for satisfying investors. Some people may have an opinion that investors should donate money, it would not happen.  If the government attempts to satisfy opposition it would not be an economic development project and it should be a social service project.

Hong Kong project had many features and even money laundering activities may have befallen as a result of development and it is difficult to implement a project which purely associates with saints’ activities. The administration process needs to develop sharp teeth control malpractices. The opposition critics have not questioned the control process and its strength the preventing malpractice.  However, the government has no purpose to devote the project money laundering purposes, and when the project monitoring if it identifies money laundering activities the government can cover loopholes through amending legislation. This is the general practice in the world. 

The other vital aspect is the government should plan to retire the debt burden using the benefits of the port city and a higher rate of revenue generated from the city must use for investment in the rural economy.  People have no idea about has the government planned for these purposes and as long as the government hides its plan the port city will be a talking point of opposition and other analysts. The concept of a port city should not give a negative message to people and it needs support from people. When it looks at the history of Hong Kong’s development it cannot find information that Chinese people had been considering the points that opposition is looking at now in Sri Lanka. The attitudes of Sri Lankans are criticizing matters that are unknown to them rather than studying points. Criticisms are seeming to be assumptions, but not realities. The reality of the Colombo Port city project could be known after five years. People must understand that there is a global competition to attract investment and those who give more encouragements to investors they would choose to invest.

The most significant aspect of the project is what is the projected revenue and how it planned to spend the revenue.  This information has not been presented to the public. According to my views, 25% of revenue should be invested in rural infrastructure development, and 50% of revenue must use to increase the volume of foreign reserves of Sri Lanka. If 75% of revenue will be generated from the project uses for the two areas it would support solving structural problems of the country.  The balance of 25% could be used to retire debt. If this way uses the revenue from the project the Colombo Port City would generate positive outcomes for Sri Lanka.

Compared to many projects in the world, the Colombo Port city project is tiny and it is opening the economy outside. Total employment opportunities would be generated might be less than 25000 and it will not be a massive project that will be the solution to all economic problems of the country. As it is reported that the economic growth of China would be more than 15% in this year there is no doubt the Chinese economy will be double within five years and Sri Lanka should attract more benefits from Chinese growth and it should work like Taiwan to strengthen the economy.

India and Western countries may not like this vision and they aren’t like to possible changes incur to Sri Lanka with the support of China and they may have displeased toward Sri Lanka. However, the Colombo Port City Project will be beneficial to India where can accommodate project supports and other services such as exports to Sri Lanka. Therefore, India must look at the port city development project as an indirect incentive for the country.    

9 Responses to “BENEFITS OF COLOMBO PORT CITY SHOULD GO TO THE DEVELOPMENT OF RURAL SRI LANKA”

  1. aloy Says:

    We should keep in mind that at this moment China needs us more than we need them.

    Their investments are always one sided. If they get a free hold, there will be no meaningful opportunities for the average Sri Lankan; their past actions here and elsewhere will be an indication to the future. They will kill the opportunities for other by simply killing their industries.

    Look at the tech industry: their products in this field are so cheap that today the west has to depend on them for most low tech items. Even a nut and a bolt is less than the cost of the material (steel) that goes to produce it!.

  2. aloy Says:

    We already have enough laws to promote investment zones except that we need to protect the investor from the sharks like unscrupulous politico and the public servant who will send them from pillar to post to extract bribes.

    What ever it is, we need not be in a mad rush. People will survive eating ‘kos and polos’ ( like in the days of idiotic Mrs B), if there is no forex for import of luxuries. But if they lose the country because of follies of current rulers or who ever it is, where can they go?.

  3. Nihal Perera Says:

    “People will survive eating ‘kos and polos’ ( like in the days of idiotic Mrs B), if there is no forex for import of luxuries. But if they lose the country because of follies of current rulers or who ever it is, where can they go?”

    Aloy:

    Sri Lankans been eating “Kos & Polos” for the last 72 years, getting nowhere economically. Port City may have some defects, but it’s not going to be a colony of China as some politically motivated opponents claims.

    Many developed nations like Singapore, Dubai, Malaysia, etc., have such cities exclusively for foreign investors and companies to operate without red tape and bureaucracy. Even in India -Gujarath – has such a dedicated zone.

    Sri Lankans should stop thinking like the frogs in the well, and learn from the other successful nations how to maximize the economic and investment potential. Otherwise SL will forever be a begging country where only corrupted politicians will enjoy the wealth while the average citizens will be struggling trying to make the ends meet.

  4. aloy Says:

    Nihal,
    I thought of staying away from these arguments, but since you are addressing me directly, there is need for a response.

    We cannot compare ours with India as it is a continent and has 1.3 b population (they only import karungka and pepper from us), no other country can come and play around with it. Take Malaysia for example: Mahathir Mohamed (of course a very corrupt person according to Malaysians I have met) set the foundation for its development; he had the Bumi Puthra concept. He made it compulsory for the Chinese to employ four locals for every one Chinese they employ in “Chinese funded projects”. If that happens in Port City, that would be ideal. But as it is now even the management panel can be all foreigners. Why are they doing this: thats because nobody trusts them.

    Singapore is another good example of economic management. They also have 109% loans to their GDP, it seems. But all their investment such as extension of ports, airports, leisure parks bring returns and their earnings per person is the highest in the world.
    In the case of Dubai, which is a criminal center, its fortunes are tied with oil money of the countries around. Most of our criminals ended up there (even the former army chief Mahesh S, is hiding there it seems. They say there are no takers to the many developments like our portcity there. This most probably a gamble to create a sin city where the main income is money laundering, perhaps like Panama which are mushrooming every where. May be the ME wealthy people may want to invest their trillions here. But they probably are the creators of 4/21, that is today.

    We have barely come out of an India created problem. We mustn’t put snake inside the sarong and cry “kanawo, kanawo” again.

    I was just listening to a TV program of a set of educated women. They had the document in their hands and I was very much worried about what they were saying about the drafted bill. What you see is what you get (WYSIWYG). We cannot afford to make a mistake. We have wasted about 50 years why not wait for a different set of people around this prez or another?.
    We still have to keep faith on the current prez to do the right thing.

  5. Nihal Perera Says:

    Aloy,
    Thanks for your response and comments, with some of which I certainly agree.

    Unfortunately, there are no 100% risk free investments or economic plans in the world, even in most advance economies like US, China, Singapore, Japan, Europe, etc. No country can predict the future, that’s why many economic plans have built in flexibility to modify such plans since global economic factors are unpredictable and changing constantly.

    My point is if SL economy to grow, it has to look in to new and different models in the world and learn what is best for SL without prostituting its, assets, resources to the highest bidder, be it US, India, or even China.

    The way I see it the biggest obstacle for SL to move forward economically (or any other issue) is the built in culture of political and social corruptions, and inherent inability of our people to work together for the good of the country; due to some ingrained social characteristics like, lack of trust, jealousy, class consciousness, and egoistical leaders who think its either my way or highway type of attitude.

    SL is way behind economically, and in developments in comparison to other Asian nations like Korea, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, etc. Sure 35 years of war has taken its toll on our economy, development, etc. But some of the above countries had it much worse than SL. Yet, they managed to rise beyond those disastrous conditions to become some of the best economies that other nations look up to.

    Unfortunately, I don’t see how SL is going to reach the prosperity levels of those countries, as long as people are divided politically, socially, and keep electing same old corrupted bunch of politicians over and over?

    As you said, I hope the present prez has what it takes to move the country away from the current mess!

  6. aloy Says:

    Nihal, thanks for the clarification.

    East is the epicenter of future development and dominant powers of tech industry. We should give more leverage to country like Japan who have been helping us for a long time. In fact they made the first blue print for the computer chip. I dont mind giving them a significant role provided they employ Sri lankans with powers to hire and fire. They must help us to create place like Sansung, and establish a chip making factory outside the port city. They are nice people and I used to meet their technical guys in parties in late 80s.
    I hope they will help us in a meaningful way.

    Let me end up this discussion with one of their ever lasting chart toppers:

    “https://youtu.be/N4hh28_hdD8”

  7. Nimal Says:

    Why do we need loans from outsiders to develop the harbour, as it is good enough for our exports and imports. I smell a rat where people in both countries will benefit with commissions etc,putting the country in to debt for generations.
    When people from the street level to the very top is no good then the country will sink just like in Zimbabwe. There the leaders looted the money and deposited out of the country,familer pattern of a failing state. I see little hope for the country.We the Sinhalese hard working wealth creators seem to at the mercy of the politicans,as they seem to grab anything profitable like our one time dry fish traders from the South,must not forget the Cylinco group where I saw to my self the hard work put by Justin Kothalawala and Justin Silva, where their money giving, profitable life policies were taken over by the then newly formed Insurance Corp.Just as in other third world countries the politicians will grab our assets.
    They will sell our assets and live in other countries and as far as the other such countries are indirectly grabbing what little we have using the politicians. I blame the stupid people in the country and I have them working for me and I know the difference because I too have foreigners working for me.So we don’t need to expand our ports as it is sufficient enough for our export/import business.

  8. Nimal Says:

    Please read the comments made by Dr wijedasa Rajapaksa.

    http://www.dailymirror.lk/opinion/%E2%80%9CWe-are-just-giving-it-away-for-Yuan%E2%80%9D-SLPP–Parliamentarian-Wijeyadasa-Rajapakshe/172-210218

    Hope he is not paid by $ kakkas
    We better be a non align country.

  9. Nimal Says:

    Thank you Lanka WEB for allowing this meaningful discussion that is vital for us the people who love the country of birth.I have business interests in Malaysia,Japan and Indonisia but only my people in SL keep ringing me for financial help even though I have given them a chance to make a living. Shameless begging seem to be a national pastime. I have terrible problems with the two working for me here in London. Tamil people are doing well in London and we are yet to see a Sinhalese doing well, truly tragic.
    Country need a clean cultural clean up, just as China is doing. They firmly believe that to make an omelette one has to break an egg.Yet SL should be neutral like Singapore.

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