Veemansa Initiative, an independent think tank recently held a Webinar on the proposed Colombo Port City Economic Commission Bill and related subjects.
Based on the deliberations at the webinar and the follow-up analysis, it was evident that the Colombo Port City Project, a 100% foreign investment venture plans to attract a diverse group of secondary investors.
A prime target of the project is the financial sector in order to project Sri Lanka as an internationally competitive Financial Centre.
In this regard, the establishment of regional headquarters of international banking giants and other financial sector enterprises is expected to be realized in the initial stages.
Further consideration based on the presentations at the Webinar, it was evident that Sri Lankas existing rules and regulations, including anti-money laundering regulations and monitoring mechanism, is well equipped to counter any possibilities of money laundering or any other illegal transaction. Sri Lanka’s Anti Money Laundering and Countering the Financing the Terrorism regime comprises of three pieces of legislation.
A. Convention of the suppression of terrorist finance Act
b. Prevention of money laundering Act of 2006
In order to provide and monitor financial transactions, a Financial Intelligent Unit was established in 2006 under the Ministry of Finance and Planning. This unit currently functions as an independent institution within the Central Bank of Sri Lanka. The overall objective of this unit is to combat money laundering, terrorist financing and related crime scenes in Sri Lanka in line with international standards and best practices. It is observed that with such stringent regulations and implementing framework, the Colombo port city will never become a money-laundering centre.
If any such potential exists in Colombo, it should be equally applicable to Dubai, Singapore and Hong Kong.
During the follow-up discussions, it was noted that Chinese Special Economic Zones, even with substantial liberalization of the financial transactions have successfully managed to prevent money laundering or related activities.
Discussions at the Webinar also highlighted the generation of foreign exchange earnings and new employment opportunities for highly skilled manpower.
According to the presentations of the government, taking into consideration the emerging demand for such human resources, reforms in the education sector has been proposed.
Professor Bo Chen was focusing on the potential for developing the Colombo Port City with state-of-the-art technologies to make it a smarter and greener city. In this regard, the emergence of new business and employment opportunities are envisaged.
Veemansa Initiative plans to conduct further discussions and analysis on the implementation of Colombo Port City in the months and years to come.