The Cabinet of Ministers has approved the development of three special investment portfolios, including one that focuses on four landmarks in the Colombo Fort area, to be developed as Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) and be listed on the stock market.
Ministry of Urban Development and Housing Secretary Nimal Perera said that the Cabinet paper submitted last week aims to develop “underperforming and underutilised government assets in the Colombo Fort area” under the PPP model and have them listed on the stock market, where the Government owns 51% of it.
“The Gaffoor Building, the Grand Oriental Hotel and York Building, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs building and land, and the Postal Department Head Office would be developed in this manner through Selendiva Investments, which is 100% owned by the Ministry of Finance, through the Treasury Department,” Perera further said.
However, Samagi Jana Balawegeya (SJB) MP Dr. Harsha de Silva said last week that Cabinet approval had been granted to “sell” the lands close to the Colombo Port City, mere days after the Colombo Port City Economic Commission Bill was approved in Parliament.
“The one-and-a-half-acre Grand Orient Hotel and York building, the ¾-acre Gafoor Building, the one-and-a-half-acre Foreign Ministry land and building, and the ¾-acre Postal Department Head Office land has been named a ‘Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV)’, the ‘Colombo Fort Heritage Square.’ Is this SPV and the two other SPVs listed in the Cabinet Paper registered under the Companies’ Act or under the Colombo Port City Economic Commission, which is not a government institution?” questioned Dr. de Silva.
Perera denied these claims, stressing that Selendiva Investments comes under the Treasury Department.
Dr. De Silva also added that SPVs would benefit from major tax reliefs, under the Strategic Development Act.
Reportedly, the other two SPVs approved by the Cabinet last week are the “Immovable Property Development”, which includes the Cey Nor Restaurant, the Waters Edge Hotel, and the International Co-ordination Centre in KKS in Jaffna, while the “Government-Owned Hospitality Sector” includes the Hilton Colombo and Sports Center and the Grand Hyatt Colombo.
Perera told us that the construction of Grand Hyatt Colombo is due to conclude by 31 December 2021.