South Asia and Beyond

As Sri Lanka Panel Begins Discussions, No ‘Official’ Acceptance Of Proposal From India Yet

 As Sri Lanka Panel Begins Discussions, No ‘Official’ Acceptance Of Proposal From India Yet

COLOMBO: A committee formed by Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Ports and Shipping will begin discussions pertaining to development of the West Container Terminal (WCT) today.

Secretary to the Ministry of Ports and Shipping U.D.C. Jayalal told The Morning yesterday that the committee will discuss the proposed shareholding split of 85-15 in favour of India. This is along the lines of the shareholding pattern in Colombo International Container Terminals (CICT), where China’s state-owned China Merchants Port Holdings (CMPH) enjoys 85 per cent stake.

Jayalal said the government would reach out to the governments of India and Japan after these discussions are concluded.

Despite reports that India has officially communicated its agreement to the development of the West Container Terminal (WCT), The Morning has learnt that there has been no agreement or communication to that effect as yet. After Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena’s statement yesterday that a proposal was made to give the WCT to India, rumours of India’s acceptance of the proposal were widely circulated.

State Minister of Regional Co-operation Tharaka Balasuriya told The Morning last week that, during its initial discussions with the Sri Lankan company handling the public-private partnership in Sri Lanka, namely John Keells Holdings, India’s Adani Group of Companies was willing to take on the WCT.

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Earlier this month, the Sri Lankan Government decided to run the East Container Terminal (ECT) as a fully Sri Lankan-owned operation with 100 per cent shareholding by the state-run Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA), succumbing to pressure from the trade unions that opposed the joint venture to develop the strategic cargo terminal.

The Cabinet also approved a proposal to develop the WCT as a public-private partnership (PPP) with India and Japan after cancelling the decision made by the previous United National Front (UNF)-led government to call for investments for development of the ECT.


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