President tells TU leaders: ECT Will Not Be Sold or Leased
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa assured representatives of Port Trade Unions that the East Container Terminal of the Colombo Port will not be sold or leased.
The previous administration had agreed to sell the East Terminal to India. The agreement envisaged obtaining a loan from Japan after sale and purchasing construction equipment with the loan money.
The President pointed out that after the present Government negotiated with India on the contract, an agreement to retain 51 per cent of the ownership and control of the Terminal had been reached. The President emphasised that he would not allow any harm to the sovereignty or independence of the country when investments are arranged.
The President made these remarks during a discussion yesterday (13) at the Presidential Secretariat on the East Terminal of the Colombo Port upon a request by Trade Unions.
The previous Government had leased the Hambantota Port to the Government of China for 99 years. After coming to power, the present Government in consultation with China took over the responsibility for the Port’s security, President noted.
The President said that the East Container Terminal Development was planned after reviewing all factors including regional geopolitical concerns, sovereignty of the country, revenue and employment generation potential. President Rajapaksa explained that the Eastern Terminal will be “sustainably developed” under the investment programme. India contributes 66 per cent of the East Terminal re-export operations. Nine per cent is re-exports to Bangladesh and the rest to several other countries.
The President further said that the plan was to develop the terminal as an investment project that is 51 per cent owned by the Government of Sri Lanka and the remaining 49 per cent as an investment by India’s Adani Group and other stakeholders. The President said that there should be no doubt about the plan and asked all the trade union representatives to submit their proposals and ideas on this programme. President Rajapaksa stated that he intends to hand over the West Container Terminal’s operations to the Ports Authority and stressed the importance of submitting plans for the development of the Port, by the trade union representatives.
Basil Rajapaksa, the Head of the Presidential Task Force for Economic Revival and Poverty Alleviation, said the expansion of operations in the Eastern Terminal will create a large number of jobs. Rajapaksa further said that the present Government had completely stopped the plans mooted by the previous Government to sell the Mattala Airport and the Norochcholai Power Plant.
Minister of Ports Rohitha Abeygunawardena, Secretary to the President P.B. Jayasundera, Secretary to the Ministry of Ports, Chairman of Sri Lanka Ports Authority, officials and representatives of 23 trade unions were present at the discussion.