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POSTED AT 06:55 AM 10-12-2017

Hambantota sets sail

Image courtesy: Daily FT

Sri Lanka received its biggest contribution to the country’s foreign reserves in four decades when China Merchant Group made the first payment of US$293 million, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe told guests at the ceremony held to hand over operations of the Hambantota port to the Chinese-led joint venture companies.China Merchant Group Limited, which will now manage and operate the Hambantota Port, yesterday made its first payment, 30 percent of the total amount, US$ 293 million, as an advance payment to the Government.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe received the cheque for US$ 293 million from the China Merchant Group Limited, at the ceremony at the Parliament Complex yesterday.

Several Ministers, Chinese Ambassador to Sri Lanka Yi Xianliang, and, officials of the China Merchant Group, attended the ceremony, held under the patronage of Premier Wickremesinghe.

“The money will be deposited in a special fixed deposit account and will be added to the country’s foreign reserves,” the Prime Minister said.

The Prime Minister reiterated that, as pledged when the Government assumed office in 2015, the Hambantota Port will be handed over to the future generation without turning it into a burden or debt for them.

He said the next step, would be the setting up of the Ruhuna Industrial Development Corporation which plans to develop the Ruhuna area into an industrial zone and hundreds of factories would be set up under the project. Among these will be an oil refinery, a dockyard and a cement factory.

The Premier further said that negotiations for this have already commenced and the land for these projects will be identified by the Ruhunua Development Authority. “The country is on its way to being the hub of the Indian Ocean. Sri Lanka is part of the modern maritime silk route. We have three ports, one in Colombo, one in the South in Hambantota, and, one in the East in Trincomalee,” he said.

According to the Prime Minister, more foreign money that would come into the country through these projects and would pave the way for releasing the people from their debt burden, without leaving any debt burden for the present and future generation as well. “The intention of the Government is to create a better country for the future generation which would enable them to move forward without any fear,” he said.

Uditha Kumarasinghe