Hambantota deal acceptable to both parties ready: Sri Lanka port minister
ECONOMYNEXT – An agreement with China Merchants Port Holdings to run Sri Lanka’s southern Hambantota port is ‘virtually finalised’ with a solution acceptable to both parties and should be ready soon, Minister of Ports and Shipping Mahinda Samarasinghe said.
“I don’t see any major issues now on the table. We’re confident we can finish it soon,” he told the ‘Logistics Leaders Evening’ forum of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport. “The Chinese side displayed a positive attitude, and the agreement is virtually finalised. We can finish it fairly soon.”
Samarasinghe said he wants to be transparent on the deal, because it generated controversy, and will place it before parliament so it becomes a public document.
“Nothing should be hidden,” he said. “The negotiations on Hambantota will be handled by me and me only,” Samarasinghe said. “Earlier, there were too many cooks – too many people negotiating on behalf of the government and making conflicting statements, which confused even the people with whom we were talking.”
Samarasinghe and Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) Chairman Parakrama Dissanayake have held several rounds of talks with China Merchants Port Holdings, now known as CMPorts.
The government has proposed giving the port to the Chinese port operator on a long lease with an 80 percent shareholding, with the balance held by SLPA, for $1.5 billion, so it can settle the loans taken to build the harbour.
“We are confident that the eventual agreement will not compromise our national interest,” Samarasinghe said.
(COLOMBO, July 01, 2017)