A heated argument erupted in Parliament yesterday between Hambantota District UPFA Parliamentarian Namal Rajapaksa and Deputy Minister of Development Strategies and International Trade Nalin Bandara over the Hambantota-Oman Oil Refinery.
Speaking during the committee stage debate in the House, MP Rajapaksa said the cabinet had given the approval for the project in November 2016 though the Singaporean Company Silver Park pvt Ltd has been established in June 2017. He said 400 acres have been given to the company despite this situation.
Also MP Rajapaksa questioned as to whether an environment assessment study on the project was carried out. “It is said that the oil refinery will affect the movement of birds in Boondala sanctuary while the proposed cement factory could affect the salterns. Have you done the environment assessment study and did you consider all these? he questioned.
Deputy Minister Bandara said everything about the projects are legal. “The BOI and our ministry had followed all rules and regulations when finalizing the project,” Mr. Bandara said. He said projects would be fully operational in 18 months.
MP Rajapaksa: A foundation stone was laid near the Hambantota harbour whereas the Prime Minister said that there was a rock. No discussions were initiated with the relevant companies. The Prime Minister laid a foundation stone for nothing. You all have given approval for a company that was not established. No environment report was taken. This is an eye wash. People are going to be deceived targeting elections. Who is the investor? Tell us clearly.
Deputy Minister Nalin Bandara raised a question and said: The investor is in India. When the Oil Minister from Oman came, they had become excited.
(Pandemonium within the House)
MP Rajapaksa: Don’t take my time.
Leader of the House Laxman Kiriella: Give him three more minutes. Please give him the time.
Chair: All right, now speak.
Dy Minister Nalin Bandara: They made the harbour for breeding fish. The cement factory will come within 18 months. We are going to convert your white elephant into an elephant that is going in a procession. A tyre factory is in the offing. The first tyre will be given to you free of charge. We are going to establish a steel factory in Trincomalee as well.
(Disturbance from the opposition)
Sadhu… Sadhu… Sadhu…. (Yohan Perera and Ajith Siriwardana)