MR calls it a ‘diabolical lie’
Posted on August 2nd, 2017

Courtesy Ceylon Today

The government’s claim that there was a plan to sell the Hambantota Port in its entirety to the Chinese under his government is a ‘diabolical lie’, former President Mahinda Rajapaksa said.

Releasing a press communiqué yesterday (1) he asserted that his government had an explicit anti-privatization policy.

“Not only did my government refrain from privatizing any State assets, we reacquired several important assets that had been privatized by previous governments. If things continue in the present manner, Sri Lanka will not have any national assets left by the time this government ends. The people should band together and organize in the villages, towns and workplaces to oppose this government’s quest to sell Sri Lanka off to foreign buyers,” he stated.

The incumbent government will not be using the US$ 1.12 billion that comes from the lease of the port to pay the loan taken to build the port, Rajapaksa claimed. He added that instead the money is to go to the Treasury to meet the day-to-day expenditure of the government. The US$ 1.12 billion raised from the privatization of the Hambantota Port is small change for this government and will soon vanish just like the US$ 13.7 billion they raised earlier, he noted.

Rajapaksa observed that the government has been trying to justify the privatization of the Hambantota Port on the grounds that the land for the Shangri La Hotel was sold outright by his government. He elaborated that the few acres on which a non-strategic asset like a hotel is built cannot be compared to a strategically important port with four terminals, 12 berths and a 5,000-acre industrial park. He added,

“The Shangri La land moreover was given on the specific condition that it can be used only for a hotel in accordance with the government’s urban development plan. The government has also been saying that my government gave land to a Chinese company in the Port City. The Port City is new land that is being reclaimed from the sea. This land has commercial value but is not of strategic importance like a major harbour.”

He explained that once the new land mass was created, the company carrying out the construction was to have the use of a very small part of it subject to Sri Lankan law, in lieu of payment and that the entire project would not have cost the Sri Lankan Government anything.

“It should also be borne in mind that my government enacted the Land (Restrictions on Alienation) Act No. 38 of 2014 which restricts the ability of foreigners and foreign owned companies to buy land in Sri Lanka but the present government removed all such restrictions by Land (Restrictions on Alienation) (Amendment) Act No. 3 of 2017. My government built or created new things. The present government is making a living by selling what my government built,” he stated.

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