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Colombo Port City’s Duty Free Zone nears completion amidst legal hitches

By: Staff Writer

May 30, Colombo (LNW): The much awaited Duty Free Zone within the Colombo Port City project is nearing completion, the Department of Government Information announced.

State Minister for Investment Promotion, Dilum Amunugama, recently engaged in an observation tour of the site to assess progress and address any existing challenges.

The terminal, which will house the Duty Free zone, is currently in its final stages of construction.Unlike traditional airport duty-free shops, this facility will cater to a broader audience.

Individuals who do not purchase goods at the airport will now have the opportunity to shop within the Colombo Port City, directly related to their passports.

However the Colombo Port City duty-free shopping complex set to be opened in April this year has come under extensive scrutiny of the Committee on Public Finance (COPF) at its meeting held recently

The Committee has assessed operational procedures of the duty free shopping complex, its feasibility and potential consequences and directed to conduct a comprehensive study to evaluate the potential effects on local businesses and the taxation framework within Sri Lanka.

Singapore-owned omnichannel retailer, One World Duty Free (ODF), and Port City Colombo have signed two agreements to operate the duty-free shopping complex.

The partnership was underscored with the formalisation of two critical agreements: an Authorised Person Agreement between ODF and the Commission and a lease agreement between ODF and CHEC Port City Colombo Ltd (CPCC).

However the Department of Fiscal Policy (DoFP) has to evaluate and guide the design of all tax incentives, including those based on the Strategic Development Project Act and the Port City Act, Finance Ministry sources said.

Preparing the necessary structures, including data sharing protocols and legal documents that assign authority to the DoFP will take time, it was stated.

There was to be a US$5,000 allowance for returning Sri Lankans and any amount for foreigners, according to concessions gazetted on May 29, 2023.

COPF chaired by Dr. Harsha De Silva MP, summoned officials on the opening of a duty-free shopping mall soon in Colombo’s Port City.

The committee stressed the need for the Investment Promotion Ministry Secretary’s intervention to resolve the issues promptly.

The Attorney General and the Port City Economic Commission have submitted different viewpoints regarding the legal framework governing the proposed duty-free shopping mall.

Acting Secretary of the Ministry of Investment Promotion Anoja Herath told the committee that draft regulations relating to duty-free shopping malls had been submitted to the cabinet for review and approval.

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