Minister of Development Strategies and International Trade, Malik Samarawickrama announced on January 05 that the signing of the agreement to lease the Hambantota Port to China will not take place on the 07th as planned.
Speaking to reporters on the matter, he said that three more agreements will be reached and they will be signed before the end of the month.
A Cabinet Sub-Committee has been appointed to look in to this matter and it will be headed by Dr. Sarath Amunugama.
A conversation took place between several journalists and Malik Samarawickrama and Ravi Karunanayake.
It was mentioned during a recent media briefing that the agreement will be signed on the 7th of this month however Min.Malik Samarawickrama noted that the agreement is currently being discussed and will be completed in about 10 to 14 days.
When questioned about the SLFP’s stance on the matter the minister said that it was presented to the cabinet where éveryone agreed’ and that on the 7th the inaugutration of the Ruhuni Development Zone will take place
The Minister also responded to the Joint Opposition allegations that the primary agreement has already been signed and that it has resulted in a financial fraud of 330 million USD, charging that in 2004 allegations were made against ten ministers in 2004 during the previous regime but the allegations were not proven
“In 2004, allegations were made against ten Ministers, myself, Paskaralingam and Charitha Ratwatte. They were ruling from 2004 to 2015. Did they prove any of that? Did investigations take place? A Committee presented the decision…” he said
The minister also said that he was not aware that the Observation Committee on Transport and Communication convened in parliament today
He also said that he was unaware of the MP’s attending such a meeting that did not include representation from the Ministry of Ports or the Ports Authority.
“…”We are the ones who called for it to be probed by Parliament” said the Minister of Finance,Ravi Karunanayake who further added that an act can be probed and an Act to take place cannot be probed and persons like Chamal Rajapaksa destroyed the Port and now they want to come and remove the debt burden.
“We have no issue. But there is no agreement.” he said charging that the questiones being asked were based on a statement made by MP’s and that is not a complete Constitutional act.
The Finance Minister pointed out that when the government though there was a wrong commited it was called out
” Chamal Rajapaksa has no right to look in to this but we will allow it. We got to know later about the signing.” he said
It was also questioned if the Prime Minister told the Ministry of Ports and the SLPA not to attend the meeting
“Ask that from the Prime Minister” replied Min.Samarawickrema
Min.Samrawikrema noted that the draft agreement with the SLPA and the three Secretaries of the Ministries for an operator company where there is a clause in the agreement reads that the sole ownership will be given to this companyis for the taxation system.
The Ministers denied that the clause number 2.4 in the first draft of the Hambantota project agreement is not valid and was just prefabrication by the Joint Opposition.
Before the conversation ended, Minister Malik Samarawickrama and Minister Ravi Karunanayake walked away…
Meanwhile, seniors of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party convened a media briefing on Thursday, Jan.05 where attention was drawn to the future of the Hambantota Port.
The General Secretary of the UPFA Minister Mahinda Amaraweera said, a certain group have a desire to make a human sacrifice for Hambantota and that they have been informed that the said group want to incite demonstrations and cause a clash with the security forces which would claim lives.
He went on to note that there is a rumor being spread that 35,000 families will be evicted – and that they will not allow the eviction of 35,000 or even 10,000 families that have been living there for generations.
“Another rumor is that one million Chinese nationals will be given visas and that it will become a Chinese colony, There statements are not true”, he added, “The Chinese Army will not come here for the protection of this port”.
Furthermore, he noted that the port will not be granted for Chinese warships to lay anchor or for any military activity to take place and that they state it with responsibility.
He also said that the stance of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party is clear and that no land will be sold to foreign nations’, instead the loss making enterprises will be restructured.
Meanwhile, a conversation took place between several journalists and Mahinda Amaraweera as well as Nimal Siripala de Silva.
General Seceretary of the UPFA,Minister Mahinda Amaraweera added thhat certain groups have a desire to make a human sacrifice for Hambantota and that information has come to light that if they want to incite demonstrationsa and cause a clash with the security forces which would claim lives
“We have these secret reports.”he said
He further assured that even though there is a rumor being spread that 35,000 families will be evicted this not be allowed
“We will not allow the eviction of 35,000 or even 10,000 families that have been living there for generations.” he said
He further noted that the rumors of 1 Million Chinese Nationals being given Visas and that it will become a Chinese Colony are untrue and that the Chinese Army will not come here for the protection of this Port nor will the port be granted for Chinese Warships to lay anchor or for any military activity to take place.
“We state this with responsibility. The stance of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party is clear. We will not sell any land to foreign nations.” he said further adding that loss making enterprises will be restructured, but they will not be sold
Min.Mahinda Amaraweera also said that agreement will not be signed on the 7th or 8th and that the statement made by Cabinet Spokesperson Minister Rajitha Senaratne was just ‘his opinion’
Min.Nimal Siripala de Silva said that he was not aware of an agreement that was reached with an American Company on strengthening democratic governance and accountability and that his ministry has not signed anything linked to such an agreement.
It was questioned that it was not the ministry that signed such an agreement but the government to which said that he was not unaware of such a situation
“I am not aware of that. But it appears that you are well aware of it ” he said
Again the ministers walked out of the media briefing before the conversation ended.