Apr 06, 2017

President’s stand on H’tota port agreement Featured

President Maithripala Sirisena intends to secure a reduction in the leasing period of Hambantota port to a Chinese company to 50 years, according to ports minister Arjuna Ranatunga.

The agreement was originally for 199 years, and that has already been brought down to 99 years through discussion, he told the Mahanayake of the Malwatte Chapter Most Ven. Tibbatuwawe Sri Sumangala Thera in Kandy yesterday (05).

Both the president and the prime minister are of the view that once a committee appointed by the president hands over its report, the agreement should be placed before the cabinet for approval, he said.

Place it before parliament, people

Ranatunga said that his personal stand was that it would be better if the pact was tabled before parliament too, to which the president too, was in agreement.

The basic agreement has been signed by the secretaries, but it is not compellable, and many amendments have been introduced to make the agreement advantageous to the country, he said.

Once the agreement term expires, Sri Lanka would not have to make any payment to claim ownership of the port, said the minister.

The Mahanayake Thera advised that the agreement be tabled before parliament as well as the people to prevent any public suspicions.

It is the opponents who will gain from lack of public awareness on the matter, he noted.

Minister Ranatunga also called on the Mahanayake of the Asgiriya Chapter Most Ven. Warakagoda Gnanaratana Thera, who too, said the country should be told openly about the port agreement.

Concealing things can only lead to the spreading of negative views, he stressed.

Ports Authority chairman Dhammika Ranatunga and deputy chairman Dr. Prasanna Perera too, participated.