Government keen to renegotiate Hambantota Port deal with China

By Indika Sri Aravinda

The Government says it is keen to renegotiate the Hambantota Port deal with China at the right time.

State Minister of Money, Capital Markets and State Enterprise Reforms, Ajith Nivard Cabraal, told Colombo Gazette that the agreement reached between the former Government and China allows the lease of the port to be extended to 198 years.

The lease was for an initial 99 years but according to Cabraal it can be extended to 198 years.

As a result, he says the Government will look to renegotiate the deal “at the right time” with the Chinese Government.

However, former State Minister of Finance Eran Wickramaratne insisted that the former Government had not reached a deal with China which allows the lease of the Hambantota Port to be extended to 198 years.

Wickramaratne told Colombo Gazette that the agreement between China and Sri Lanka on the Hambantota Port was for 99 years.

He said that an investigation must be launched as to who had later included a clause, if any, that the 99-year lease can be extended to another 99 years.

The former State Minister said that he will raised the issue in Parliament as well.

Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena had in February said that the previous Government made a mistake on the Hambantota port deal when they cancelled the lease and gave it on a longer period of 99 years plus another 99 years once the first term ends.

China later denied the deal was being renegotiated, with foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin instead saying the port’s operations were expanding. (Colombo Gazette)

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