Dec 22, Colombo: The Sri Lankan government will proceed with inking the agreement with China Merchant Holdings on Hambantota Port as President Maithripala Sirisena and the Cabinet of Ministers have approved the agreement to develop the port as a public - private partnership, Minister of Development Strategies and International Trade Malik Samarawickrema said.
Addressing the media at the ministry, Minister Samarawickrema said the framework agreement in this regard had already been signed and the Concessionary agreement is expected to be signed early January next year.
Accordingly, 80 per cent of shares of the Port of Hambantota will be given to the Chinese company for USD 1.12 billion. The rest will be held by the Sri Lanka Port Authority.
The Minister further said that it is also expected to immediately sign a few other agreements to commence Cement manufacturing plants, LNG Plants, Oil refineries, and Dockyards within the land extent of 1,200 acres owned by the port of Hambantota with an investment of approximately USD 4 billion.
In addition, a Special Economic Zone covering Monaragala, Embilipitiya, Matara and, Hambantota areas will also be established with the support of the Government of China. This will be implemented under three phases in a land extent of 15,000 acres. Around 2,400 factories which generate nearly 400,000 direct and indirect job opportunities, especially for the younger generation are also expected to be established in this area within six years, he said.
"We expect a huge development in South, Monaragala, and Embilipitiya areas," he said adding that nearly 90 percent of lands used under the new agreement is owned by the government and they will be given only for 99 years.
Under the new agreement, the Hambantota Port will only be used for commercial purposes, but not for military purposes at any time except by Sri Lanka Navy, the Minister assured.
"This will be a joint venture. There will be no Chinese working here other than several essential technicians etc. Only Sri Lankans are there," the Minister stressed.
According to the Minister the present income of the Hambantota Port was not sufficient to pay salaries of employees and 60 percent of profits were utilized to pay their salaries. "Spending about 60 percent of the profit of the Port of Colombo for Hambantota Port is useless," he said.
Minister Samarawickrema added that not only the Hambantota Port, the government would also develop the Trincomalee Port with Indian and Japanese companies.