Mar 27, 2017

H’tota port a must to save the rupee - Amunugama

The Hambantota port project should go ahead as planned if Sri Lanka is to gain economic stability, or else there is a danger of a further depreciation of the rupee to take the country to a loan repayment crisis, warns special projects minister Dr. Sarath Amunugama.

He has told BBC Sandeshaya that the amended cabinet paper for the project, formulated in consideration of the recommendations of subject minister Arjuna Ranatunga as well, has been sent to the attorney general for advice.

Amunugama, also chairman of the ministerial subcommittee on the project, has said the project would be advantageous to the country, challenging critics to bring 1.1 billion dollars into the country immediately to prevent the rupee’s going further downhill.

Soon after receiving the AG’s recommendations, the port project would be signed, he said.

As per the amended proposal, China Merchant Port Company will own an 80 per cent stake of the proposed Hambantota Port Development Corporation, while the Sri Lanka Ports Authority will get the remaining 20 pc, he said.

Furthermore, 40 per cent of shares of the new corporation could be listed in the stock exchange within a 10 year period, according to Amunugama.

The project will be implemented on the debt-into-equity basis, through which the Chinese company will provide 1.1 billion USD to the state, he said.

The minister added the present government was going ahead with the same plan the Rajapaksa regime had made for the Hambantota port project.