MEDIA CENTER FOR NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT OF SRI LANKA
UNP ACTS AGAINST THE COUNTRY BY DISCOURAGING INVESTORS.
He said that despite clear explanations made by him in the Parliament and in Media Conferences outside about granting of lands to Shangri-La Hotel and to China’s Catic Company for construction of Hotels and Shopping/Residential Complexes in Colombo, the UNP MP, Dr. Harsha de Silva has criticized the government in a Media Conference recently about granting of lands to the Chinese Company.
He said that although they strongly criticized earlier about provision of lands to the Shangri-La Hotel project, documentary evidence presented by the government has made them to accept the transparency of the deal. The Minister said that foreign investors come forward for investments after carefully analyzing the economic viability of investments and the Catic came forward to invest in the Colombo project only after Shangrila and the 7 acres of land for Catic has been given for Rs. 997 Million, at a higher rate than the land given to Shangri-La. He said that the UNP’s earlier baseless criticism about Catic being not in the Hotel trade was discounted by pointing out, with documentary evidence, that it has 11 hotels and 56 Supermarkets. Despite that they are making baseless allegations with the sole objective of discouraging foreign investments as they did when the government obtained the HSBC loan saying that they would not honour the loan if they come to power. He pointed that no Opposition party in any country of the world do such things as they do not play politics with the integrity and credibility of the country.
Mr. Yapa said that payment for these land offers are not made neither to the Ministry of Economic Development nor to the Tourist Authority and presented photocopy of the receipt issued by the Treasury acknowledging the payment by the Shangri-La, and the letter issued by the Treasury to the Commissioner of Lands facilitating the Commissioner to finalise the land agreement with Shangri-La. He said that the government has made every transaction in a transparent manner and in accordance with the standard government procedures and not like the sale of Wellawatte Weaving Mills and several other government establishments carried out by the U.N.P. government when they were in power. The Minister appealed to the U.N.P. not to act in a manner to discourage foreign investments and project a negative image of the country.
The Minister further explained that the government entered into an MOU with the Catic Co. on 15th February this year and in accordance with the MOU conditions the Catic has established their Sri Lankan registered company in the name of Avic International Lanka Ltd. He said that accordingly steps have been taken to hand over the land to the Avic International. He said that the Avic International has already paid the down payment of Rs. Five billion and nine hundred and ninety seven Million to the Treasury. He presented photocopies of Avic payment made to the Treasury and the subsequent letter issued by the Treasury to the Commissioner General of Lands. He said the total Avic investment will amount to 355 Million U.S.Dollars.
He said that hitherto the highest expenditure per day was made by American tourists which amounted to U.S.Dollars 1,400. However, Chinese are presently very economically vibrant and they spend about U.S.Dollars 1,730 per day. The Minister said that about 65 Million Chinese visit foreign countries per year and the Catic Hotel will also provide a good opportunity to attract a large number of high-end tourists. He said that about 130,000 Chinese tourists visit Maldives a year and although they travel to Maldives via Colombo, Sri Lanka has no way of attracting them to our country, and the Catic Hotel will also become capable of luring these tourists to Sri Lanka.
The Minister said that due to political stability and the peaceful atmosphere prevailing in the country Sri Lanka has become conducive for foreign investment and during the period from January to June this year, the Board of Investment has entered into agreements for 42 investment projects. This has brought over Rs. 139,936 Million as direct foreign investment to the country. In addition to this, he said, that local investors has invested Rs. 33,201 Million. Accordingly an amount of Rs. 1,73,138 Million has been invested for the projects started within the first six months of this year. Agreements have also been reached for expansion of 23 existing projects. Foreign investments amounting to Rs. 12,446 Million and local investments amounting to Rs. 52,674 Million has been made for these expansion projects, generating 6703 employment opportunities. He said that due to the investments made in Sri Lanka within the first six months of this year, 24,469 employment opportunities have been generated.
Speaking about the forthcoming Kandy Esala Pageant, the Minister said that there are 25 star class hotels, and many lodgings and resorts in Kandy and in the surrounding areas. The room capacity available amounts to 1,300 rooms. He said that according to the Kandy Hoteliers Association already all these rooms have been reserved.
The Minister said that Harsha de Silva has also criticized about the expenditure that would be incurred for shifting the security services units to Pelwatte comparing it with the expenditures being incurred to provide facilities to the people resettled in the North. He said that it was during the time of the Lord Mountbattan that Security Services Units were established in various places in Colombo and under the present arrangements all Units will be taken to one place and the total cost will not be incurred in one payment and it will only be released by the Treasury with the progress of the work. He said that during the last 2 years the government has spent Rs. 33,000 Million for the development of infrastructure in the North.
He pointed out that although many developed countries implemented Marshall Plans to rebuild their countries after the Second World War, Sri Lanka setting an example to the whole world has rebuilt the North within the last two years implementing projects under normal circumstances.
Referring to the forthcoming Local Government Elections, the Minister challenged to UNP to win at least one local government institution in the South for which elections are being held if possible. He said that even in the North the government would make a significant dent this time winning a considerable number of Local Government Institutions.(niz)