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No privatization of Colombo Port Eastern Terminal: You can take western terminal for development Sri Lanka tells New Delhi

Sri Lankan Ports and Shipping Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe said that the Eastern Terminal (ET) of the Colombo Port will not be privatized as the government’s stance is to run it as a government entity and hence the question of handing over to India did not arise. The government instead could offer development of Western terminal to India.

The Minister was addressing the media at the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) headquarters on October 22.The Minister added that the Government has no intention of privatizing the Eastern Terminal (ET) of the Colombo port.

Minister Samarasinghe said that no Cabinet Paper was submitted to the Cabinet by the Prime Minister to privatize the ET or to enter into a Public Private Partnership (PPP) aiming to privatize it. “There is no truth in that as the Prime Minister did not forward such a Cabinet Paper seeking Cabinet approval to privatize the ET” he added.

However, the Minister noted that he (Minister Samarasinghe) submitted a Cabinet Paper seeking Cabinet approval for further development of the ET. “With the Cabinet Paper submitted by me, seek the approval for calling for international tenders to supply necessary cranes to the ET yesterday. The Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) has invested US 80 million to develop the Eastern Terminal and another US $ 80 million will have to be allocated to install necessary equipment including cranes” the Minister said.

According to the Minister the SLPA is economically strong to allocate the sum of US $ 80 million needed to install the required equipment.

Asked whether there is any truth in the news circulating that discussions are being carried out between Sri Lanka and India to hand over the Eastern Terminal to India, the Minister said that the President’s stance is to manage the ET as a state own entity under the government. The ET should be 100 per cent owned by the Government.

“The President while participating in the BIMSTEC summit in Kathmandu recently has told the Indian Prime Minister that the ET would run as a state entity” he said.

He added that only deep terminals can handle modern big vessels, which carried a large number of containers. According to the Minister,the Eastern Terminal is the only government own container terminal, which can accommodate and handle such big vessels as the other SLPA terminals are not deep enough to handle such big vessels. The Colombo International Container Terminal (CICT), which was privatized during the Mahinda Rajapaksa’s regime to China for 35 year period can also handle big vessels. If the ET is privatized SLPA will not be able to handle big vessels.

However Minister Samarasinghe said that the Government has no objection to provide India with the Western terminal, which needed development.

“A large sum of money should be invested to develop the Western terminal; the government has no objection if India develop the Western terminal,” he said.


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