COLOMBO, Dec 7 (NIA) – Sri Lanka’s Finance Minister, Ravi Karunanayake, on Wednesday denied allegations by former President Mahinda Rajapakse that the government was selling off its national assets.
He further lashed out at Rajapakse stating that it was ‘unbecoming of a person who ruled this country twice to implement such a vicious circle to mislead the people.’
“The previous government put the nation in a debt trap making the country unaffordable to bring any returns on its development. The cost for Hambanthota Port and Mattala Airport initially made as unsolicited proposals were later doubled at the time of implementation. As a result the government’s revenue gradually deteriorated to an average of 11 % of the GDP,” Karunanayake said in a statement.
The Hambantota Port and the Mattala Airport were both build by China during the previous Rajapakse regime.
Karunanayake further said that Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, during his recent visit to China, held successful discussion with Chinese authorities to convert these credits into equity.
Accordingly, the Hambanthota Port in the south, which failed to bring return on its huge investment will be converted in to a joint venture between the Sri Lanka Ports Authority and China with the equity of over one billion US dollars.
“This will enable the government to retire a sizeable portion of the loan obtained for the Hambanthota Port,” he said.
“Similarly, Mattala Airpot, Srilankan Airlines and Hambanthota Investment zone will have Public Private Partnership Investment (PPP) without selling off or privatizing any assets of the nation as alleged by former President and his allies which is malicious and misleading. It is pity that even certain trade unions are making the same allegations giving life to the vicious circles of those politicians.”
Karunanayake further accused Rajapakse for selling off the country’s assets to foreigners during his regime.
He accused Rajapakse of giving the land of the Army Headquarters at Galle face and a land at Hambanthota on a freehold to a foreign company to construct Hotel complex.
“At that time there was a 100 % levy on land purchased by foreigners. But this was waived off by the previous government at the behest of the then Minister Basil Rajapaksa,” Karunanayake alleged.
In addition, at the Colombo Port city the then government not only gave the foreign company the portion of reclaimed land as freehold but also excluded it from the Sri Lankan jurisdiction as well. But no sooner this government came into office it took the initiative to retake the land given freehold to China bringing them under the Sri Lankan jurisdiction,” he added.