Hambantota Port Agreement To Be Signed Tomorrow PM

Hambantota Port Agreement To Be Signed Tomorrow PM

The agreement was signed between the government-run Sri Lanka Ports Authority and the state-run China Merchants Port Holding Co.in the capital Colombo on Saturday.

The Ports Minister explained that the agreement that was signed would be presented to parliament again, because some might charge that it is different from the one presented on Friday, pointing out that it is not "cast in stone" and 'can be amended at any time with the consent of both the parties'.

It borrowed billions of dollars from China to build roads, ports and airports to revive the economy after the end of the civil war in 2009.

Samarasinghe said the port, which is 240 kilometres (150 miles) south of Colombo, will not be a military base for any country.

The port, overlooking the Indian Ocean, is expected to play a key role in China's Belt and Road initiative, which will link ports and roads between China and Europe. "We thank China for arranging this investor to save us from the debt trap", Port Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe told the gathering in Colombo port where the deal was signed.

Under the proposal, a state-run Chinese company will have a 99-year lease on the port and about 15,000 acres nearby for an industrial zone, BBC reported.




Sri Lanka's Cabinet on July 25 approved the sale to a Chinese firm of a 70 per cent stake in the Hambantota port, tweaking the deal after the initial agreement sparked protests.

The minister said this week that several countries had raised fears about the sale.

The Hambantota port was built with Chinese loans in 2010 during Rajapaksa's term. Cash from the firm's majority stake will be used to repay part of the island nation's huge foreign debt.

China received control of Sri Lanka's Hambantota sea port. India has long considered Sri Lanka, just off its southern coast, as within its sphere of influence and sought to push back against China's expanding maritime presence.

After 10 years, the Sri Lankan side will gradually purchase an additional 20 percent stake, resulting in the two sides owning an equal share of 50 percent each, according to the agreement, which is valid for 99 years.

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