Govt will find ways to fund port terminal development - Cabraal | Sunday Observer
No disposing of assets

Govt will find ways to fund port terminal development - Cabraal

7 February, 2021

No one could take ownership or take away a harbour and the Government will not dispose of any of such assets other than finding viable ways to finance the development of the State assets, State Minister of Finance, Ajith Nivard Cabraal told the Sunday Observer Business in response to claims that the government has given the green light to hand over the West Terminal of the Colombo Port to India.

“How could an outside party or country take ownership of a port without the consent of the government that runs it? The claims by bankrupt elements do not hold ground and they are silly,” the State Minister said, adding that the Government will find ways to fund the development of the West Terminal and even all other assets that need to be made productive for the growth of the economy.

The State Minister  said that the question now is to find funds to develop the terminals of the Colombo Port and that the Government will find a different way to finance it. The Cabinet last week gave the nod  to operate the East Container Terminal of the Colombo Port as a fully-owned container terminal of the Sri Lanka Ports Authority moving  away from the previous stance to operate the terminal with India and Japan while the Posts Authority holds  51 percent stake in the operations.

However, reports indicated that the government had decided to operate the proposed West Container Terminal  of the Colombo Port as a public-private partnership  between  Indian and Japanese parties and the SLPA in compliance with the Memorandum of Cooperation  signed for ECT in 2019 by the previous regime.

The proposal in this regard was tabled by the Minister of Ports and Shipping based on the recommendations of the negotiating committee set up  to evaluate the investment proposal submitted by India’s Adani Group in line with MOC provisions.  The trade unions agitating the withdrawal of any agreement to hand over the East terminal to a foreign party called off the ‘work to rule’ campaign following the assurance given by Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa last week that the ECT would run as a 100 percent  SLPA operated terminal.

However, hot on the heels of Sri Lanka backing out of the tripartite agreement inked in 2019 to develop the strategic terminal with India and Japan, the Indian High Commissioner met President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to urge Sri Lanka to adhere to the commitments of the agreement.