COLOMBO (EconomyNext) – Sri Lanka will not "tear up" a sea reclamation deal entered into with a Chinese company, but it will be discussed with China after a report is completed in two weeks, Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe said.
He said the administration was not in the stance that it should "completely tear up" (sampurnayen irala darner sthavaraya), the Port City deal.
"For one thing this is a large project, with Chinese government support (anugrahaya)," " Prime Minister Wickramasinghe told parliament.
"So we cannot stop it on a request. But on the other hand, the environment of this country has to be protected. It cannot be harmed. Also the law and rules have to be followed."
He was responding a question by People’s Liberation Party leader Anura Dissanayake on how the Sirisena administration was now prepared to go ahead with the deal after declaring on election platforms that it was corrupt and environmentally harmful.
Cabinet spokesman Rajitha Senaratne said this week that Sri Lanka will go ahead with the deal after rectifying problems, as one of environmental study had been conducted by the University of Moratuwa already, but another was needed.
"Some environmental organizations wanted it to be completely cancelled," Prime Minister Wickramasinghe said.
"We did not cancel it like that."
He said a cabinet subcommittee was looking into it and a decision will be taken after an inquiry. Files on the project had shown that a report was missing, he said.
A report from the sub-committee will be finalized in two weeks and once and the cabinet will reach a decision and share it with parliament, Wickramasinghe said.
Prime Minister Wickramasinghe said he had informed special representative of the Chinese government he met Friday that the report will also be given to the Chinese Ambassador in Colombo where the items in it will be further discussed and parliament also informed, he said.
Wickramasinghe’s United National Party also said that the China Communications Constructions Company, which was given the deal without competitive bidding, was a World Bank blacklisted firm.
Jathika Hela Urumaya, a constituent party of the administration had said there were fears that China will lay claim to the sea around the reclaimed land as it had been given freehold land.