Chinese financiers are ready to invest US$ 5 billion in the Hambantota Industrial Zone in the next few years and 55 of them have already committed to invest in the industrial zone, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said at the foundation laying ceremony for the Sri Lanka-China Industrial Zone Development project in Mirijjawila, Hambantota.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said that the development programme launched in Hambantota under the leadership of President Maithripala Sirisena will be even bigger than former President J. R. Jayewardene’s Mahaweli Development Programme.
The government has signed a framework agreement for a 99-year lease of the Hambantota port with a company in which China will have 80-percent ownership. Officials also plan to set up the nearby industrial zone where Chinese companies will be invited to set up factories.
The Premier said 1,235 acres have been allocated from this zone in Hambantota for Chinese investments to enable them to set up industrial ventures.
“We are only giving it on a 99-year lease and not selling the port fully to the Chinese company,” the Premier added.
Former Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa, Ministers Sajith Premadasa, Mahinda Amaraweera and Dilip Vedaarachchi were entrusted with the task of identifying land for Chinese investments in Hambantota, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe disclosed.
He said that the Hambantota port incurred losses amounting to Rs 983 million while the following year it incurred losses of Rs 449 million. He said that from 2017 the loan payments would have to be added to these losses.
He said that the government was facing a large crisis as it was unable to pay off the loans and also unable to turn the port into a more profitable venture.
Wickremesinghe said that by the year 2017, in one side the port would have collapsed due to losses and on the other side the economy will collapse due to the inability to pay loans. He said that on September 16, 2014 Chinese president Xi Jinping and then Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa signed an agreement phase 2 of the Hambantota Port project to development the Hambantota Port into an international harbour. Asiantribune.com