Written by Tharushan Fernando
06 Jan, 2017 | 7:51 pm
The agreement to lease out the Hambantota Port has come under discussion and criticism across various fora.
Was the agreement signed ? or Was the signing postponed ?
Minister of Education,Akila Viraj Kariyawasam said that the primary agreement has been signed and it will launched on January 7.
However, yesterday Minister of Development Strategies and International Trade,Malik Samarawickrama said that discussions are underway and will be completed in about 10 to 14 days.
Despite what the ministers are saying, the Committee of Ministry Secretaries have signed a framework agreement with China Merchant Port Holdings Company Ltd.
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It is reported that this agreement was signed following cabinet approval. The agreement notes that the Chinese Company will own 80% of the Port while Sri Lanka Ports Authority will own 20% of it.
An assurance has also been provided that all institutions including the Sri Lanka Port Authority will act in accordance to this framework agreement.
However, the government says that a final agreement has not been inked and that it will be postponed.
When questioned if the signing of the agreement is being postponed with approval of the President the State Minister of Finance,Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena said that there needs to be approval from Parliament and not only the President, and it must be sent to the Attorney General’s Department, and Cabinet must approve it as well.
‘Frameworks and Memorandums can be reached but the agreement needs to be legal …” he said
The State Minister of Finance added that certain matters were discussed by the economic committee but the President has made it clear that it must be presented to Parliament
“What is this corruption and lie ?” charged the Convener of the Voice Against Corruption,Wasantha Samarasinghe
He added that the government cannot undermine the objection raised by the people, and if the signing is postponed, the people of the country will rally together,
“This must not be the race to be the liar of the century. Fulfill the promises made to the people …” he said
General Secretary of All Ceylon General Ports Employees Union,Chandrasiri Mahagamage called for the Hambantota Port to come the purview of the Sri Lanka Ports Authority. He added that the eastern jetty must not be handed to the Indian company but instead converted to operate under the purview of the SL Ports Authority
“We will support that process. We will support after the people are fully aware of what is happening.”he said
He added that if this agreement is signed, the Port Authority will fire the first cannon to send Ranil Wickremesinghe and the government home.
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