Sri Lanka: port city development gets approval from parliament

The China-backed port city project is expected to include a casino.
The China-backed port city project is expected to include a casino.

The China-backed $1.4bn port city development in Colombo has received approval from Sri Lanka’s parliament.

Sri Lanka.- A few days after Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court ruled that the port city development required approval through a public referendum, the country’s parliament has passed a law installing a powerful economic commission to administer the complex.

The bill to support the China-backed port city development was approved by 149 votes in Sri Lanka’s 225-member parliament.

The development is expected to include an integrated resort with casinos, an entertainment zone, a conference centre, residential developments and a financial zone.

Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court had previously suggested ways to amend the bill so it would comply with the national constitution. It said that some clauses had to be approved in a public referendum.

The Sri Lankan government hopes the project could help the country’s recovery after the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. However, opposition parties argue that the project could see Sri Lanka lose control of its territory to China.

Described as the largest single foreign direct investment in Sri Lankan history, the project has been developed by the state-owned Chinese engineering firm China Communications Construction Company (CCCC).

The development will be administered by Colombo Port City Economic Commission, which will also regulate gaming activitiesdetermining how gaming activities will be operated and how casino operators will gain a licence.

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