Did India draft the cabinet paper regarding the East Container Terminal?

Did India draft the cabinet paper regarding the East Container Terminal?

Written by Staff Writer

07 Jun, 2019 | 8:53 pm

Colombo (News 1st): The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna questioned the recent cabinet paper on the Eastern Container Terminal of the Colombo Port in parliament today (June 7).

JVP MP Bimal Rathnayake noted that the jetty in the Colombo port was sold on May 28th to India and Japan. He included the cabinet memorandum that was presented by the Minister of Ports and Shipping Development on May 24th 2019 in the Hansard.

He pointed out that the agreement was signed on May 28th, and the cabinet paper was submitted on  Friday the 24th. He noted that it is evident that no minister will look into such matters during the weekend nor will be able to summon their respective secretaries and conduct an analysis in this regard.

JVP MP Bimal Ratnayake in Parliament said he suspects whether the Cabinet Paper on the Eastern Container Terminal was authored by India. He noted that when drafting cabinet papers, there is a standard language that is generally used, accordingly, in this cabinet paper, the name of the Indian prime minister is stated as His Excellency Prime Minister of India Sri Narendra Modi.

He pointed out that if this cabinet paper was drafted by the foreign ministry, he will understand, however, he firmly believes that this cabinet paper was drafted in India. He added that with regard to the memorandum of the cooperation the document, it states “Memorandum of Cooperation for the Development of the Colombo Southern Port Sri Lanka with the government of the Republic of India.

He questioned; “Is Japan and Sri Lanka planning for an acquisition in India? Or is India and Japan planning for an acquisition in Sri Lanka?”

MP Ratnayake said that when signing an agreement it is the name of Sri Lanka that must be stated first as this is an agreement regarding the port of Sri Lanka. He noted that counting of votes during the India elections started on May 23rd and on the 24th results were out, and it was evident that the BJP party was going to win.

He added that therefore, the document was drafted in India and sent to Sri Lanka, the cabinet convened on the 28th and the agreement was signed on the same day. He said the government has betrayed the mandate of the general public and that they have no right to sell the national assets.

Meanwhile, the Chief Government Whip presented to parliament the response of the subject minister, to the questions raised by MP Anura Kumara Dissanayaka previously, regarding the eastern container terminal of the Colombo port.

Chief Government Whip Minister Gayantha Karunathilake, however, said the government has not decided to hand over the Eastern Container Terminal to any country.

He said a proposal was presented to develop the site through a joint company of which the Sri Lanka Ports Authority will have a 51% stake.

He added the objective of setting up such a company is to engage in port operations in a more competitive manner and stressed there will be no situation where security would become vulnerable.

Responding to this JVP Leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake said a new company has been established and 49% of its shares will be given to India and Japan and 51% of stake is retained by the Sri Lankan government. He noted that without informing the Parliament, a cabinet paper was presented on the 24th and signed on the 28th, which reveals that the government rushed with this matter.

MP Dissanayake went onto note that the government also wanted this information not be revealed to the parliament and the general public. He questioned the government as to what gave them the authority to hand over national assets to foreign forces?

He noted that without the consent of the public, without the approval of a majority in Parliament, there is absolutely no reason to approve the transfer of ownership of national assets to foreign forces, for such a cheap price.

However, the Chief Government Whip Minister Gayantha Karunathilaka stressed that they took this decision after discussing this matter for a long period of time.

MP Anura Kumara Dissanayaka requested that a parliamentary debate regarding this matter be called on immediately.

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