The government hopes to sign the agreement to lease out the Hambantota Port to the Chinese before the end of this month, Minister of Development Strategy and International Trade, Malik Samarawickrama told the media last week.
He said, the government accepted the proposal of the Chinese company that proposed USD 1.1 billion for the port on a 99 year lease that will pay off the mounting debt the government is burdened with.
“ The government was compelled to go for the lease of the port as it cannot settle the staggering loans obtained by the former government for projects that have turned white elephants today. We will turnaround these ventures and accelerate development of the country,” the Minister said.
Sri Lanka owes over USD 8,000 to China on loans taken for development projects by the former government. The USD 1.1 billion lease to be obtained by the government accounts for 80 percent of the cost of the construction of port.
The Joint Opposition has accused the government for selling land to Chinese companies and for failing to make profits of the projects launched by the former government . “The JO is bankrupt and that’s why they make false allegations about the government which now on the path to expedite development through mega projects that will offer over 20,000 jobs in industrial zones that will come up across the country.
“We will secure land for the industrial zones and already 15,000 acres have been set a side for the project.
What the opposition states about selling valuable State assets is totally misleading and and done to sling mud on the good work of the government,” Samarawickrama said.
He said there will be a number of foreign direct investment coming in this month on ventures that will provide a large number of jobs to youth in villages. Minister of Finance Ravi Karunanayake said former president Mahinda Rajapaksa cannot point figures at this government saying it is selling State land to China when it is he who sold land to China in Hambantota, Mattala, Suriyawewa areas to China. We have made over 30 percent profits over the past years as government revenue when the former government was making huge losses. State revenue under the former regime increased only by two to three percent annually,” Karunanayake said.
He said, this government is not hast to to go for development projects as the former did to gain political mileage. “We will go slow but steady in developing the country.”