Jan 08, Colombo: Sri Lanka's Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said it was former President Mahinda Rajapaksa who first understood the necessity of the industrialization for Hambantota area to develop the Hambantota port and this government is only implementing his initiative.
Addressing the inauguration ceremony of the Sri Lanka - China Logistics and Industrial Zone (SLCLIZ) to be set up within the 'Ruhunu Economic Development Area' in Hambantota Saturday, the Premier said the former President had discussed development of Hambantota with the Chinese President during his time and had signed an agreement on 16th September 2014 to begin industries in this area.
The Prime Minister noted that the China EXIM bank loan of USD 1.4 billion should be settled from this year and therefore the VAT had to be increased. Under the deal the present government negotiated the 80 percent of shares that will be given to the China Merchant Company will cover about USD 1.1 billion of the loan while Sri Lanka will also have a special administrative right with the other 20 percent of shares.
Speaking about the acquisition of land for the Ruhunu Economic Development Area, the Premier assured that any religious or archeological lands will not be acquired for the project and 95 percent of lands that will be acquired are owned by the government.
According to him, there had been a discussion on Friday with Tissamaharama chief prelate and the former Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa and the issues pertaining to the acquisition of lands have been discussed there in detail.
The Premier revealed the plans to establish an economic zone called "South - West Corridor" from Kandy to Wellawaya covering Central, North-Western, Western, Southern, Sabaragamuwa and Uva provinces. The Western Province is to be the largest city of this corridor. With the implementation of South - West Corridor initiative about 70 percent of the population of the country will have a good income. In parallel to that, the North-East Corridor initiative covering Northern, Eastern, and North Central Provinces will also be set up.
The Prime Minister said that the funds will be received from China, Singapore, India, and Japan for the successful implementation of these initiatives and a powerful Sri Lanka will be created in the future.