Sri Lanka will not sell or lease East Terminal: PM

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka will not sell or lease the East Container Terminal Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa said as trade union opposition intensified for a planned build operate transfer (BOT) style deal to complete the terminal.

“There is nothing for the opposition to blame us,” Prime Minister Rajapaksa told reporters at his house in Carlton House.

“We are not going to give it to anyone. There is no sale. There is no lease. It will under our control. I think the trade unions also know that.

“We never even had a discussion about it. There is no problem about it. There is no need to strike. Most in the cabinet are of the view that there is no need to sell it.

“The President is also of the same view and is not in the asset sale view. That is the policy of the United National Party. We were not given power to take forward the UNP policy. I will say that clearly.”

Sri Lanka was planning to give a minority stake in a terminal company for firms in India, Japan and Sri Lanka to invest and develop it President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has said. Sri Lanka Ports Authority would retain a 51 percent stake, he explained.

Under a Build Operate Transfer deal a fully built terminal would come back to the port at the end of a concession period.

However port trade unions which are opposing it, have started a work to rule campaign. Workers in Galle and Trincomallee has also joined it reports said.

They are demanding a promise in writing that 100 percent of the East Terminal would remain with the Sri Lanka Ports Authority.

Port services have meanwhile been declared an essential service.

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On Monday Prime Minister Rajapaksa told port unions that a new cabinet paper would be submitted and 100 percent of the terminal would remain with Sri Lanka.

Vijitha Herath, from the opposition Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna claimed that the government will give the West Terminal to India instead of the East Terminal. (Colombo/Jan31/2021 Updated)

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