ECONOMYNEXT- Sri Lanka will join hands with a giant Indian conglomerate in a Build, Operate and Transfer deal to develop the West Container Terminal (WCT) of the Colombo Port, the country’s Cabinet spokesman said.
Minister Keheliya Rambukwella told reporters today that the Indian partner will be Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Limited with John Keels Holdings Limited as a local partner with the Ports Authority (SLPA) also holding a stake.
Rambukwella said that the Cabinet approval to develop the WCT as a public-private partnership in collaboration with SLPA and parties nominated by the Indian and Japanese Governments was given on February 1.
Following the approval, he said the cabinet appointed a Negotiation and a Project Committee to evaluate the proposals in this regard.
Accordingly, the Build, Operate and Transfer plan approved by the negotiation committee was forwarded to the Indian High Commission and Japanese Embassy requesting them to nominate investors.
The proposed agreement is to stretch to 35 years, Rambukwella said.
The Proposal presented by Adani Group was accepted by the Indian High Commission while no investor has been named by the Japanese government, Rambukwella said.
Earlier this year the Adani Group had expressed interest in the East Container Terminal (ECT) which has already been developed and can accept vessels for transhipment.
However, the deal with the Indians was raucously opposed by Nationalist Groups and Trade Unions which supported the ruling party during the last election.
The government then withdrew from negotiating with Indian and Japanese investors drawing sharp criticism from both countries.
India said that it had been promised the ECT “at the highest leadership level.” The Indian investors preferred the ECT as it was already bringing in revenue and whatever investment was needed to expand its capacity.
The WCT is completely undeveloped and will need a major cash injection and also time to bring in revenue. (Colombo/March 02/2021)
Reported by Imesh Ranasinghe