The eastern terminal of the Colombo Port will not be sold to any foreign country, not even to India or Japan, the Ports and Shipping Ministry informed parliament today.
In the absence of subject Minister Sagala Ratnayake, Chief Government Whip Gayantha Karunathilake read out a statement sent by the minister in response to a question asked by JVP Leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake whether steps had been taken to develop the port as a joint venture with India, Japan and Sri Lanka.
Minister Karunathilake said the Board of Directors of the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) had taken a decision to develop the Eastern terminal of the Colombo Port by obtaining a loan.
"As a SLPA development plan - the National Ports Development Master Plan funds of the SLPA was only sufficient to develop the first stage of the eastern terminal. But both first and second stages of the port had to be developed at the same time to improve the capacity of the terminal. So, the SLPA Board decided to develop both stages with a loan. Japan agreed to grant a concessionary loan and decided to develop it as a joint venture with India, Japan and Sri Lanka. But the ownership is 100 per cent owned by the Sri Lankan Government. While 51 per cent of shares of the joint venture belong to Sri Lanka," he said.
The JVP MP claimed that the government had secretly signed an agreement to hand over the eastern terminal to India and Japan.
He said the government should have discussed the matter in parliament before signing the agreement and requested a debate on the matter at the next parliament session.
The MP said he was not satisfied with the answer given to his questions and wanted the subject minister to give a detailed answer. (By Ajith Siriwardana and Yohan Perera)