IAG December 2014 - page 6

inside
asiangaming
December2014
6
Reimagining
SriLanka
S
ri Lanka’s capital of Colombo
is being transformedby
Chinese-funded infrastructure.
The latest andmost audacious
investment involves amassive
land reclamationproject
to createanultra-modern
extensionof the city itself.
Thesenewadditions to the skyline, along
with thenaturalwonders and treasured
heritage that abound throughout the “Pearl
of the IndianOcean,” as the islandnation is
known, offer auniquebackdrop to the three
resort casinos beingdevelopedaround the
city’smaster-plannedentertainment hubat
BeiraLake.
As apackage, it certainly seems compelling
enough todraw thehigh-end tourists both
thegovernment and the resort developers
areafter.
Cover Story
InSeptember2013,
itwouldhave takenup to twohours todrive
alongwindingpotholed roads toget fromBandaranaike International
Airport to Sri Lanka’s capital of Colombo. A month later, the drive
timewasslashed to30minuteswith theunveilingof thenewUS$292
million, 25.8-kilometer-longColombo-KatunayakeExpressway funded
by the Export-Import Bank of China. For visitors headed to the Beira
Lake district around which the city’s three upcoming casino resorts
will be centered, the journey from the airport to amid-town hotel is
nowquick andpainless.
China is investing big in Sri Lanka—last year it became the
leading source of foreign direct investment, supplying 24% of the
total $1.42 billion recorded, with Hong Kong providing another
12%. Chinese President Xi Jinping visited the country in September,
and while he was there inaugurated Sri Lanka’s biggest electricity
generator, a Chinese-funded $1.3 billion, 900-megawatt coal power
plant which enabled PresidentMahinda Rajapaksa to slash citizens’
electricity tariffsby25%with immediateeffect, amove tailor-made to
score him populist points ahead of provincial council elections that
samemonth andhis own run for a third term in early 2015.
Also during his visit, President Xi launched the construction of the
Chinese-financed$1.4billionColomboPortCity, the largestever foreign-
funded investment in Sri Lanka. The Port City is being built alongside
analready existingChinese-builtmega-port by aunit of state-controlled
China Communications ConstructionCo. on 233 hectares of reclaimed
land,anareaslightly larger thanMonaco.Theoffices,hotels,apartments
andshoppingcenters thatwill occupy thePortCityareexpected todraw
as much as $20 billion in investment over 15 years, according to Sri
LankaPortsAuthorityChairmanPriyathWickrama.
TheChinese-financed$1.4billion
ColomboPortCity
, the largest foreign-funded
investment inSri Lankaon record,withplans that
call for offices, hotels, apartments and shopping
centers, is expected todrawasmuchas$20billion
in investment over15years.The reclamationof
land for theproject kickedoff inSeptember.
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