Dec 09, Colombo: Sri Lanka on Saturday signed share ownership agreement with China on Hambantota Port formally handing over the operation of port to the state-owned China Merchants Port Holdings Company (CMPort).
The agreement was signed today between Sri Lanka Ports Authority and China Merchant Port Holdings, Hambantota International Port Group (HIPG) and Hambantota International Port Services (HIPS) under the patronage of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe at the parliamentary complex.
The USD 300 million initial payment under the 99-year lease agreement was officially handed over to Sri Lanka at the occasion.
Speaking at the event, the Prime Minister said, the Hambantota Port will be made the main port of the Indian Ocean.
"The unity government expects to develop and operate the Hambantota Port to make it a main port in the Indian Ocean. An economic zone will be set up outside the harbor. Due to the development of the Hambantota harbor, industries in Ruhuna will have an economic basis. There will be industrialization in the area which will lead to economic development and promote tourism."
The Prime Minister said the government had passed the legislation regarding the implementation of the project yesterday.
"The government pledged to pay the debt taken by the previous government for these projects loans. With this agreement we have started to pay back those loans. We are going to develop the Hambantota port without burdening the masses. We get US$ 300 million today. We deposit this amount in foreign reserves. The future generation can go forward without a burden. We have taken steps to make Sri Lanka the hub of the Indian Ocean. We thank the Chinese government and its representatives at this occasion," the Premier said.
Under the 99-year lease agreement, CMPort agrees to invest an amount of up to US$ 1.12 billion into Hambantota Port and Hambantota port and marine-related activities.
The contract is expected to generate a lot of jobs and an investment zone.
Ministers Malik Samarawickrama, Dr. Sarath Amunugama, Mangala Samaraweera, Deputy Minister Nishantha Mutuhettigama, representatives of the Chinese government, representatives of the companies and a large number of people participated in the event.