The demand for real estate is in a huge upward curve in Sri Lanka and this trend is likely to continue, said Executive Director, John Keels Holdings, Krishan Balendra.
Speaking at the Sri Lanka Investment and Business Conclave 2017 organised by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce yesterday, he said that around a decade ago some 200 apartments were sold in Colombo per annum and this has now increased to around 2,000. “We see the demand further increasing.”
He said that space in Colombo is being taken for development and people who are living in large areas with gardens are now looking at selling them and moving in apartments. “A new apartment living culture is now being created.”
This has also resulted in land prices sky rocking and more apartments being built.
He also said that outside Colombo this demand is more on to the beachfront properties and they see a tenfold increase in land prices. “Most of the lands are being used for hotel projects.”
Chairman Jetwing Hotels, Hiran Cooray, said that today they are witnessing the second birth of the tourism sector after the ending of the war. He said that during bad times the hotel sector was driven by around five or six companies and in contrast today many new players have come in to the industry.
“I think Sri Lanka should be better positioned and projected. “As and when this happens all the hotel rooms can be filled.”
Meanwhile in the earlier session, the new Minister of Foreign Affairs said Ravi Karunanayaka said that several meaningful steps were taken during his time to correct some of the issues in the financial sector and these would help investors to look more positively at Sri Lanka.
He said that since day business registrations, long-term business visas, and land ownership are now in place. He also said that investments to be made in Sri Lanka are steady and they would not be tampered with for at least for another 30 years.
The Minister added that it was because the international community was satisfied with the progress that was made by the government in all sectors that the GSP Plus was re-awarded to Sri Lanka.
Minister Karunanayaka also added that they have not signed any agreements for the Hambantota Port projects. “Sri Lanka only has two options . One is to let the Hambantota Port continue as a loss-making venture and pay its losses and debt from the Colombo Port profits. The second is to go in for the Debt to Equity Swap option which China.”
He said that the second option is what the government is aiming at.
Minister of Megapolis Development and Western Development Champika Ranawaka said that development is not taking place and investors too are being looked as especially for the Light Rail link. “We are also looking at improving the waterways and canals in Colombo and also one from Mattakkuliya to Hanwella has being identified.”
The new Deputy Foreign Minister, Eran Wickramaratne, who attended the event as the former Deputy Minister of Public Enterprise Development, said that today there are signs of a reversal of the brain drain.
“This is because Sri Lanka’s can find equal job opportunities in Sri Lanka.”
He also said that the government is keen to pursue more private public partnerships and invited companies to explore this possibility.