China never pressurised us to handover H'tota port: PM

5 July 2018 09:31 pm - 16     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe today refuted claims made by the recent New York Times story that the present government was under heavy pressure from China to handover the Hambantota Port to them after it was struggling to settle the debts borrowed during the previous regime.

Mr Wickremesinghe refuted claims made by the New York Times report during a special statement he made in Parliament this morning.

“I must say that the Chinese government never pressurised Sri Lanka on this matter. What the Chinese government wanted us to do was to get proposals from Chinese companies to come up with proposals to run the Port initially. The proposal from China Merchant Port was most beneficial for Sri Lanka. China Merchant Port agreed to invest USD 1,080 million on the port. Chinese President and the government as a whole was agreeable for this proposal. Accordingly, the Chinese Company and the Sri Lanka Ports Authority entered into an agreement following the cabinet approval. China Merchant paid USD 293 million on December 2017 and USD 97 million in January 2018. The company has paid the remaining USD 589 million as of today. This is a victory as far as the people in this country are concerned. Rajapaksa government borrowed funds and constructed a port without ships. Our government had been able to settle the debts and to convert the port into a profit making one. It has not been sold out. What we did was to set up a joint venture to run the Port. Hambantota would be a developed port in the future,” the Prime Minister said while highlighting that the Sri Lankan government never struggled to settle what it owed to China.

Primer Wickremesinghe also refuted the suggestion made in the New York Times story that the transfer of Hambantota Port had given China the control of territory just a few hundred miles off the shores of a rival India and strategic foothold along a critical and military waterway.

“The Port will not be used for any military activity and that a clause to this effect is included in the agreement with China Merchant Port. We have highlighted this fact during the discussion with the Chinese government. Previous government borrowed Rs. 1,320 million for the Port project from China. The port became an issue during the 2015 presidential elections. Repayment became an issue as the government at that time had no means to settle the debt. It was running at a loss. The losses suffered by the Hambantota Port from 2011 to date is Rs. 47 billion. The Yahapalana government pledged to resolve the issue during 2015 elections. The present government had two options with regard to the Port when it came to power. First is to declare the borrowing agreement illegal and abolish it. Second option is to have a dialogue with the Chinese Government. We chose to have a dialogue with China. Present government went into a dialogue. We discussed on how to make use of the Port which was a white elephant at that time. President discussed with China initially and then I discussed it together with a group of ministers. Our government was of the opinion that the Port should be run as a public private partnership and to convert it into a profit making venture,” he added.

There is an airport in Mattala without airplanes just like the Hambantoa Port which has no ships. This was a result of the debt created by the Rajapaksa regime. We discussed about the Mattala Airport with the Chinese government but did not get a positive response. Therefore we got into a dialogue with the Indian government. Sri Lankan government will be relieved from the burden of Mattala Airport soon. It will also become a profit making venture in the future,” he also said.

Further the Prime Minister urged former President Mahinda Rajapaksa to make statement and respond to the allegations made by New York Times.

“I have responded to what the New York Times report has said about the present regime and I would like to request the former President to make a statement in Parliament as well,” he said. (Yohan Perera and Ajith Siriwardana)

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  Comments - 16

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  • Premalal Thursday, 05 July 2018 09:57 PM

    No they squeezed us to pay up.

    Justica USA Thursday, 05 July 2018 09:57 PM

    YET again covering up his cousins husband ... SHAMELESSLY! Yes you guessed it right...the one with a UNIQUE NIC.

    Haramanis Thursday, 05 July 2018 10:01 PM

    The PM waves a magic wand and makes a non profitable port and a non viable airport become money spinners overnight. Makes you believe that these were profitable ventures from the beginning - given the right approach...

    Sarath Thursday, 05 July 2018 10:29 PM

    It is obviously the Indians who have influenced the article in the New York Times. It is ludicrous that the Indians who share a Militarised border for hundreds of miles with China are now so concerned about the Chinese in Hambantota who are 300 miles away from India. We must highlight this point to the Americans.

    THINKER Thursday, 05 July 2018 11:19 PM

    Mr. Prime Minister, Credit to you and well done in negotiating a better deal for us after the former President sold us away. The Portuguese, Dutch and the British ruled us for 450 years. Now the Chinese are going to rule the Port for 99 years! We Sri Lankans must rule ourselves. Please do not sell us to any country!

    Haramanis Friday, 06 July 2018 10:28 AM

    Mr Thinker. Are you sure of your facts - what has really happened is that we have given away vast tracts of land for 99 years at a song - to buy food to feed the likes of you, not to develop the country

    Premalal Thursday, 05 July 2018 11:23 PM

    Chinese did not ask for it but you gave it anyway. You are one hell of a Prime Minister.

    Dil Friday, 06 July 2018 12:00 AM

    Mr Prime Minister, Although we voted for you in 2015, we see both the executive office under the President and administrative arm under you as "failed mechanisms". Hence, we will repeat what we did on Feb 10, 2018 and will elect a proper government who would run our country -effectively and efficiently. However, the people will remember you as a man who is honest and is highly discipline, but as a bad "politician" who cannot run a country. Nevertheless, you are miles ahead of the current president.

    GH Friday, 06 July 2018 12:28 AM

    So, you wanted the pocket filled then you guys gave it to them before ending your era.

    DJ Friday, 06 July 2018 12:51 AM

    In politics there is no friends and no enemies. Rail get a life leave politics and relieve our country

    Doratupala Friday, 06 July 2018 01:56 AM

    So the PM too says that NYT publishes crap?,,,

    ns.nw Friday, 06 July 2018 02:59 AM

    Have you not learned anything??Requesting assistance from any foreign government does not relieve the burden. First the port and now the airport. Logic says two wrongs can’t make a right.

    Waco Friday, 06 July 2018 03:25 AM

    RW , your resignation is long over due.

    Lord Wolfstein Friday, 06 July 2018 12:03 PM

    Get rid of all Chinese Companies. They are all not honest and have made dubious contracts. Under international law, dubious contracts can be terminated at any time.

    Gammini Friday, 06 July 2018 06:35 PM

    No need of advice from Tiger Lord.

    Rasheed Friday, 06 July 2018 12:12 PM

    Let the public know the real contents of the contract.


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