Apr 05, 2017

H’tota port: Arjuna happy with new draft, president undecided Featured

Ports minister Arjuna Ranatunga told the cabinet at its meeting yesterday (04) the new draft to lease Hambantota port to a Chinese company has answered many outstanding issues.

However, president Maithripala Sirisena stressed on the occasion that a final decision could not be taken until a ministerial subcommittee made its conclusion.

Prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and minister Malik Samarawickrama said identifying problems and finding solutions should be expedited and the agreement signed, as representatives of the Chinese company would be leaving the country tomorrow.

The president said he would sit down with the PM and other parties and take a decision before its signing.

It was with minister Ranatunga that China Merchant Holdings first held talks, in Hong Kong, to lease the Hambantota port.

However, the PM then intervened, removed the ports minister from the talks and tasked Samarawickrama with it, after which Ranatunga started opposing the project.

Now, Samarawickrama has been able to get Ranatunga’s agreement.

The ports minister last night gave a copy of the new draft to senior officials of the Ports Authority and asked them to submit a study report today.

He will be in Kandy today, possibly with Samarawickrama, to brief Mahanayake Theras with regard to the matter.