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JLL’s Global Real Estate Transparency Index (GRETI) 2016 is out and Sri Lanka has made its debut in this highly-credible and well-known index. Compared to similar market sized countries like Myanmar (ranked at 95) and Vietnam (ranked at 68), Sri Lanka (ranked at 69) is a stronger debutant and better placed to move up in the next (2018) assessment given the reforms being rolled out by the government and increasing interest of international investors into the market.

JLL’s GRETI is a unique survey that quantifies real estate market transparency across 102 markets worldwide. The Index aims to help real estate investors, corporate occupiers, retailers and hotel operators understand important differences when transacting, owning and operating in foreign markets.

“Sri Lanka and Vietnam are likely to compete for moving into the semi-transparent category – ahead of others in the pack – from their low-transparency status today. Both countries are reforming several sectors and attracting international investors. Myanmar too, is off the block and is one of the fastest improvers, but has a long journey to make through the cluster of countries with opaque real estate sectors,” JLL said in a statement issued last week.

The statement noted that Sri Lanka is currently in the midst of a promising period of rapid economic growth and social development, driven largely by investments into infrastructure across the country as well as continued growth in the services sector, which now contributes 58% of the country’s GDP.Revival signs in the economy can be seen from the promising GDP growth expected in the next few years.

“Sri Lanka’s office and retail markets are seeing activity by reputed global names. This activity is reflecting through the growth in office and retail space off-take in last four quarters. With limitations of quality space available, the CBD sub-market rents have increased by 7-10% y-o-y in almost all grade-A office buildings,” the statement emphasized. However, it said that Sri Lanka’s concern could be boosting foreign direct investment (FDI) quickly, maintaining a sustainable growth of the private sector and exports as well as addressing the urgent need to realign public spending with the nation’s immediate needs.

“It is crucial now that the government implements necessary reforms to provide an improved investment climate conducive to driving more FDI and ushering in growth of the private sector – with a structured framework to drive investment,” the statement added.