GMR of India and we need to be careful ………. Making Mattala Airport viable lessons from RGIA Hydrabad
Posted on October 8th, 2017

Dr Sarath Obeysekera

India’s largest airport developer and operator GMR Group is willing to convert Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport (MRIA) into a profitable venture, if a request comes from the Sri Lankan Government.

It was reported in the local media in August that an Indian company has made a proposal to the Civil Aviation Minister to take over MRIA, indicating that it would pump US$ 205 million into the airport for a 70 per cent share for 40 years. The proposal was approved by the Cabinet.

However, the name of the company that was keen to invest in MRIA – which has earned the dubious honour of being the ‘world’s emptiest international airport’ – was not revealed. Opened in March 2013, MRIA initially saw several airlines operating there. It was also hyped to be Sri Lanka’s first Greenfield airport and the national carrier SriLankan was expected to create an airline hub there. Unfortunately, all these plans fell apart due to lack of demand. The question then was how to turn this US$ 209 million investment into a profitable venture

Maldives pays US$271m in damages to India’s GMR

The government of the Maldives has paid US$271million in damages to Indian infrastructure firm, GMR, for the abrupt termination of a lucrative contract to develop and manage the country’s main airport.Attorney General Mohamed Anil said that the state-owned Maldives Airports Company Ltd had settled the payment on Tuesday without drawing on the state budget.Former President Mohamed Nasheed, whose government signed the contract with GMR in 2011, subsequently condemned his successor, Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan, for terminating the deal against international law in a Twitter post. Waheed responded by defending the move as the right decision for the Maldives.

GMR is a powerful corporate entity we Sri Lankans do not want tom face the same situation like with Air Bus Company where we end up in paying colossal amounts of  penalties  for defaults We have to ne weary of inviting such giants to invest in Mattala considering the debacle like in Male where GMR claimed a thumping amount in an Arbitration Centre in Singapore.

GMR was also eying to develop a Marina in Galle Harbour and now trying for Mattala in South is sign that India wants to have control of South since Chinese have taken over Hambantota Port .

By any chance of a successive government decides to terminate Mattala Agreement with GMR it is evident that we will be facing another arbitration in Singapore .

Whatever we do in Sri Lanka ,we should hire international project management team to scrutinise the hidden clauses in the mending agreements with GMT

We are a poor nation and we do not want to end up bankrupt .

Dr Sarath Obeysekera

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