November, 21, 2016
Gulf Times - Sri Lanka is keen on importing liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Qatar as part of government policy to shift to clean energy, Minister of City Planning and Water Supply Rauff Hakeem has said.
“In our energy sector, LNG-generated power plants are going to be the next futuristic power generation option. In order to bridge the gap of our energy supplies, we want to move away from coal to LNG. There is a high priority being given to that.
“We have already identified two 300MW LNG-generated power plants that we plan to rollout. We are now projecting our power requirements for the next 20 to 30 years; we need to quickly move on to some energy options, which have less impact on the environment and LNG is one of those options,” Hakeem told Gulf Times on the sidelines of an investment forum hosted by Doha Bank yesterday. As a matter of policy, Hakeem said, government is now moving away from thermal power to LNG, adding that Sri Lanka’s coal-fired power plants “have created a lot of environmental issues” for the local community.
The minister said energy would be among some of the sectors to be discussed during Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena’s planned state visit to Qatar in 2017 to boost trade ties.
Citing the visits in the past to Sri Lanka by HH the Father Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani as well as HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, the minister said both had expressed “keen interest” in investing in Sri Lanka’s real estate, infrastructure, and tourism sectors.
“There is a free trade agreement that we are finalising with Qatar and hopefully that would be signed when the president visits the country next year. The free trade agreement will further facilitate better bilateral trade ties between Qatar and Sri Lanka and give better incentives to people from both countries to trade with each other,” Hakeem noted.
The minister said yesterday’s forum revolved around investment opportunities for Qataris in Sri Lanka in the maritime, aviation, education, energy, commercial services, tourism, manufacturing, infrastructure, and agriculture sectors.
“It is a matter of Qataris exploiting the opportunities available in our country. The investment climate in Sri Lanka is quite good now and we would like Qataris to try and take advantage of that.”
Asked about the number of Qataris travelling to Sri Lanka, Hakeem said, “A lot of Qataris have been coming to Sri Lanka as tourists. In fact, Sri Lanka has become a preferred destination for family tourism because we are a family-friendly country.”
He added that plans are underway to invite a delegation from Qatar’s public and private sectors to explore investment opportunities in the country. He also noted that Sri Lanka can help Gulf countries deal with food security issues.
Hakeem speaks during the forum hosted by Doha Bank. PICTURE: Anas Khalid