(VIDEO) Hambantota Port leased or sold ? Tissa clashes with Ex-PM Ranil

(VIDEO) Hambantota Port leased or sold ? Tissa clashes with Ex-PM Ranil

Written by Zulfick Farzan

02 Dec, 2021 | 3:28 pm

COLOMBO (News 1st); Was the Hambantota Port sold or leased?, was a question raised in Parliament on Thursday (2), which led to a heated exchange between SJB MP Tissa Attanayake, Former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, and Ports & Shipping Minister Rohitha Abeygunawardena.

Attanayake’s comments noting that he does not approve of the decision to sell the Hambantota Port sparked the exchange of words.

“If something is added to the country, that resource should add value and we cannot approve of any decision taken to sell or hand over those resources to others,” he told the house.

Noting that governments are temporary custodians elected for five years, Attanayake said a government has no right, therefore, to sell off resources that are paramount for the future.

However, MP Ranil Wickremesinghe, the Former Prime Minister said an agreement was reached to lease the Hambantota Port for 70 years, and not to sell it.

However, MP Attanayake said the then-government leased or sold the port citing that it was not possible to pay the debt, however, what happened was the money was moved to the treasury and Sri Lanka is still servicing that debt.

Ranil Wickremesinghe said as per the port agreement it is possible to reclaim the port by terminating the agreement on any given day, and Sri Lanka will be liable to pay compensation.

He also added that the 1 Billion US$ obtained from the lease was moved to the treasury to be used to boost Sri Lanka’s foreign reserves, adding that the funds were used for economic progress.

Port and Shipping Minister Rohitha Abeygunawardena intervened to correct the former prime minister, “The Former Prime Minister is mistaken. The lease was for 99 years and not 70 years,.”

He also said it is not possible to terminate the agreement as mentioned by Wickremesinghe, adding that there is no document to claim the lease period was reduced to 70-years from 99-years.

“We should be thankful that their government was defeated, if not, they would have sold the entire country,” remarked the Minister.

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