Sri Lanka to release 50 acres of capital land for investments

Patali Champika Ranawaka

Sri Lanka will release nearly 50 acres of state-owned land in the near future for investments in Colombo’s commercial area, a minister said on Monday, as the island nation targets a record $2.5 billion in total foreign direct investments next year.

Land scarcity and strict land ownership rules for foreign investors have discouraged offshore investors so far.

President Maithripala Sirisena’s coalition government has been gradually clearing some state lands dwelled by illegal squatters, mainly around the historic Beira Lake.

“We can easily release up to 50 acres in the near future,” Megapolis and Western Development Minister Champika Ranawaka told Reuters.

“We will call for request for proposal first for the government-owned land in the next year. All the shanties will be cleared by end of this year.”

A government official, who has the knowledge on the proposed land sale, said the plan is to go for 99-year lease with an investment of at least 1.92 billion rupees ($12.5 million) per acre.

The government will target investments in tourism, leisure parks and mixed development projects in the area.

Beira Lake is now surrounded by Sri Lanka’s tallest Chinese-built Lotus Tower and some popular hotel chains including Hong Kong-based Shangri-La Asia and some owned by local conglomerate John Keells Holdings.

The head of the government’s Board of Investment said last week the country aims to attract $2.5 billion in FDI next year from this year’s target of $1.5 billion. ($1 = 153.5500 Sri Lankan rupees)