GR claims East Terminal was to be sold to India

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa claims the former Government had agreed to sell the East Terminal of the Colombo Port to India.

Rajapaksa told Port Trade Unions today that the present Government negotiated the deal with India and reached an agreement to retain 51% of the ownership.

“The previous administration had agreed to sell the East Terminal to India. The agreement envisaged obtaining a loan from Japan after sale and purchasing construction equipment with the loan money,” the President had said.

The President said that he would not allow any harm to be caused the sovereignty or independence of the country when investments are arranged.

“The previous Government had leased the Hambantota Port to the Government of China for 99 years. After coming to power, the present Government in consultation with China took over the responsibility for the security of the Port to its hand,” the President’s Office quoted Rajapaksa as saying.

The President said that the East Container Terminal Development was planned after reviewing all the factors including the regional geopolitical concerns, sovereignty of the country, revenue and employment generation potential.

President Rajapaksa explained that the Eastern Terminal will be “sustainably developed” under the investment programme. India contributes 66% of the East Terminal re-export operations. 9% is re-exports to Bangladesh and the rest to several other countries.

The President further said that the plan was to develop the terminal as an investment project that has 51% ownership by the Government of Sri Lanka and the remaining 49% as an investment by India’s Adani Group and other stakeholders.

The President Rajapaksa also said that he intends to hand over the operations of the West Container Terminal to the Ports Authority.

Basil Rajapaksa, the Head of the Presidential Task Force for Economic Revival and Poverty Alleviation, said that the expansion of operations in the Eastern Terminal would create a large number of job opportunities.

Rajapaksa further said that the present government had suspended plans mooted by the previous Government to sell the Mattala Airport and the Norochcholai Power Plant.

Minister of Ports Rohitha Abeygunawardena, Secretary to the President P.B. Jayasundera, Secretary to the Ministry of Ports, Chairman of Sri Lanka Ports Authority and other officials and representatives of 23 trade unions were present at the discussion. (Colombo Gazette)