Colombo, Jan 4 (NIA) – Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, on Wednesday remained firm that his government would give an 80 percent stake of the Hambantota Port to a Chinese company in order to convert an existing loan which was taken by the previous government, into a stake.
However Wickremesinghe insisted that no land had been sold to China or any other country and all deals were on a 99 year lease only.
“Yes, we have given an 80 percent stake to a Chinese firm. What is the problem?” Wickremesinghe queried when questioned by journalists.
“It is on a 99 year lease. We have not sold it out. Everything is on a 99 year lease.”
“Port City was given (by the previous government) on a free hold but our policy is not to give anything on free hold. Our policy is to give everything on a maximum 99 year lease. Nothing more than that.”
He further blamed opposition legislators for disrupting the government’s development plans and denied allegations that there was political instability within the unity government.
“No matter how much anyone shouts no one can disrupt these plans. It is in our hands. Hambantota Port, Mattala Airport, the highways was developed through massive loans taken from China. All of them are very beautiful but who is going to pay the loans? Since 2010, our country did not have the income to pay back these loans. Whoever comes, they will not be able to take the Hambantota Port from us. All we are doing is securing the future of our children as the people must benefit from all these plans. Not the politicians. Mahinda Rajapakse took those loans expecting the people to pay,” he said.
“No one will be able to stop us even though they keep shouting,” he added.
Wickremesinghe further said that the island country was expecting 2 to 3 billion dollars worth of investments in infrastructure this year. The investments would further build up in 2018, 2019 as the government still had to draft new laws. Sri Lanka was expecting an overall investment of 50 billion dollars or more in the coming years.