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From left: Dr. Fernando Im, Senior Country Economist for Sri Lanka and the Maldives, The World Bank, Hon. Eran Wickramaratne, State Minister, Ministry of Finance and Mass Media, Dr. W A Wijewardana, Former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, Prof. Indralal de Silva, Former (Chair) of Demography, University of Colombo, Prof. Amala de Silva, Department of Economics, University of Colombo at the panel discussion on "Demographic Change in Sri Lanka" moderated by Dr. Ramani Gunatilaka, International Centre for Ethnic Studies.

Around 60 State owned rest houses, previously managed by the Urban Development Authority and other government agencies, are scheduled for a change of management under a cluster-lease concept.
These rest houses that are scattered all over the country will be parcelled into clusters of three or four and leased out for a 30 year period to investors, said Tourism Ministry sources.rn

rnThe scheme is currently pending cabinet approval.rn

rnSome of these rest houses, although in poor condition, are in prime locations and all of them require heavy renovations and aggressive marketing to benefit in any significant way from the prevailing good times.rn

rnHowever, the signs, say the Authorities, are good.rn

rnSecretary to the Ministry of Tourism P Ramanujam said various private sector parties have already expressed interest in the scheme and some of the properties. rn

rnAnother potential investor eyeing these properties is the Ceylon Hotels Corporation (CHC). rn

rnThe CHC that has traditionally catere