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Sri Lanka opposition claims administration going back on ECT promise

ECONOMYNEXT – Opposition legislator Harsha de Silva claimed that the government was planning to bring in an Indian party to operate a container terminal in Colombo port, despite giving promises to union not to do so in the run to elections in 2019.

“They said they will not sell or lease the resources of the country and that they will keep 100 percent of it under the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) but they had done it anyway,” he said citing foreign media reports.

Under the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe administration, Sri Lanka, India and Japan signed an agreement to jointly develop the port.

Japan was to give a loan to Sri Lanka Ports Authorty and a joint venture terminal operating company would run it. There were concerns that SLPA would end up servicing the debt if the terminal operating company did not do as well as expected.

India was expected to name Adani group as its nominee to give effect to the agreement.

Cabinet spokesman Bandula Gunewardene said earlier in 2020 that Sri Lanka was negotiating with India to change the agreement and it was not possible to easily go back on a government to government agreement.

It is not clear what the structure of the arrangement would be.

Sri Lanka had earlier called for open bids to develop the port with an Indian party to be included in the consortia.

The then administration the halted the selection process with no explanation, leaving a half built terminal unused for almost five years.

Last week Sri Lanka Port Authority began to operated the first berth after fixing cranes imported for another terminal. (Colombo/Nov04/2020)

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