The move comes after the Cabinet decided to make a u-turn on its earlier decision to develop the East Container Terminal with India and Japan.
Minister of Ports and Shipping Rohitha Abeygunawardena said that a Cabinet sub-committee has been appointed to discuss the new proposal with India.
The Cabinet had today approved a proposal to ensure the East Container Terminal (ECT) was 100 percent in the control and management of the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA).
India had today demanded the full implementation of the agreement reached with Sri Lanka and Japan on the East Container Terminal.
The Indian High Commission in Colombo hit back after Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa told trade unions today that a cabinet paper will be submitted to ensure the East Container Terminal (ECT) is operated 100 percent by the Sri Lanka Ports Authority.
The Memorandum of Cooperation among the three Governments of Sri Lanka, Japan and India on the development of the East Container Terminal located in the Colombo South Port was signed in Colombo on Tuesday, 28 May 2019.
“I would like to reiterate the expectation of Government of India for expeditious implementation of the trilateral Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC) signed in May 2019 among the Governments of India, Japan and Sri Lanka for the development of ECT with participation from these three countries,” a spokesperson at the Indian High Commission in Colombo told Colombo Gazette.
The spokesperson said that the commitment of the Government of Sri Lanka with regard to the ECT has been conveyed several times in the recent past, including at the leadership level.
“Sri Lanka cabinet also took a decision three months ago to implement the project with foreign investors. All sides should continue to abide by the existing understandings and commitment,” the spokesperson said.
Following the recent visit to Sri Lanka by Indian Foreign Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar, it was decided to award the expansion project of the East Container Terminal to Adani Group of India.
However Rajapaksa today said that the foreign company which was to manage the East Container Terminal had refused to accept a report submitted by a committee appointed to explore concerns over the ECT.
As a result the cabinet paper will be submitted to ensure the ECT is fully managed by the Sri Lanka Ports Authority.
Following the assurance given by the Prime Minister, trade unions who had been protesting against the deal with the Indian company, decided to suspend the protest tomorrow (Tuesday).
The Sri Lanka Ports Authority was earlier declared an essential service as workers continued to protest against the decision to give a 49% stake of the East Container Terminal to India’s Adani Group.
In an Extraordinary Gazette notice issued on Saturday, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa declared all services, work or labour of any description necessary or required to be done by or in connection with the Sri Lanka Ports Authority established by Section 3 of Sri Lanka Ports Authority Act, No. 51 of 1979 an essential public service.
The gazette notice noted that the services provided by any Public Corporation or Government Department or Local Authority or Cooperative Society or any branch thereof being a Department or Corporation or Local Authority or Cooperative Society, which is engaged in provision of the services specified in the Schedule hereto, is essential to the life of the community and is likely to be impeded or interrupted. (Colombo Gazette)