Special Economic Zone at Hambantota port :State will keep ownership of land: Malik | Daily News

Special Economic Zone at Hambantota port :State will keep ownership of land: Malik

About 90-95 percent of the lands to be used for the proposed 15,000-acre Special Economic Zone at the Hambantota Port would be state lands, Strategic Development and International Trade Minister Malik Samarawickrama said.

The minister addressing a press conference at his ministry premises in Colombo yesterday expressed his confidence that the government would be able to find about 5,000 acres from Hambantota and the balance from areas such as Monaragala, Ambilipitiya and Mathara for the purpose.

He assured that no forest land or wildlife reserve would be used for the purpose.

He said the private lands used for the purpose would be taken over with the consent of the owners after duly compensating them.

The same approach of taking over lands for highways construction would be followed here, the minister said. He said these lands would not be given to the investors at once but in about three stages.

The government expects about 2,400 industries would come up in this zone within the next few years generating about 400,000 new employment opportunities.

He said the new investments coming in the area include an LNG plant, oil refinery and a dockyard. He said the country would receive about USD 4 billion from these investments, and some of the factories elsewhere in the country would also be shifted to this zone.

The minister said the government has made it clear that the Hambantota port is only for commercial operations and that it could not be used for any sort of military operation.

He said the Hambantota port would be operated as a Joint Venture by the China Merchant Company and the government with 80 percent stake to the company.

“The company was willing to buy 80 percent shares for USD 1.12 billion and thereby the total value of the port will be USD 1.4 billion. We are now discussing the concession agreement with the company, and the port will start work in January after signing it” he said.

The minister said the the port’s security will be handled by the Navy, Police and the Ports Authority.

Asked about the job security of the Hambantota workers, the minister said a clause was included in the agreement that they would be absorbed as of their qualifications following interviews.

Asked whether India has any objection on the PPP initiative with China, the minister replied that India had raised no issue with the move.

The minister said the 99 years lease of the port would not be extended for a second term. 

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