Mar 05, 2017

A decisive cabinet meeting on H’tota port! Featured

A special cabinet paper on Hambantota port is likely to be submitted to the ministers’ meeting on March 14, reports say.

The paper in question has already been drafted by Dr. Sarath Amunugama and Malik Samarawickrama that proposes the handover of the port to China Merchant Company.

Before the cabinet takes up the proposal, the president and the prime minister will discuss it, after the former returns from his Indonesia tour.

According to the proposal, China Merchant Company will have an 80 pc stake of Hambantota port, while the remaining 20 pc will go to the Ports Authority.

For that, China Merchant Company is expected to pay 1,100 million US dollars to the government.

Arjuna is adamant

Meanwhile, subject minister Arjuna Ranatunga has informed ministers Amunugama, Samarawickrama, Ravi Karunanayake, Sagala Ratnayake and Kabir Hashim and the secretaries of their ministries as well as the secretaries to the president and the prime minister, in writing that the agreement to privatize the port could not be signed until the Ports Authority Act was amended.

That was after he received the final draft of the agreement on February 24.

Ranatunga has insisted in his letter that the suggested 99 grace period should be reduced and that after the end of the project period, the immovable assets should be returned to the Ports Authority without any payment.

He also wanted the removal of hints in the agreements that suggest the value of the port as 1.4 billion dollars.

However, government sources say if Ranatunga continues to oppose the agreement, he is likely to lose his portfolio at a cabinet reshuffle expected after the president returns from his Indonesia tour.

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