Cranes for ECT: TUs question early payment

  • 20% payment by 31 December: SLPA

BY Skandha Gunasekara

Port trade unions last week questioned why Sri Lanka was paying 20% of the cost of gantry cranes on order from China for the East Container Terminal, alleging that there were irregularities in the contract.

Speaking to The Sunday Morning, AllCeylon General Ports Employees’ Union (ACGPEU) Secretary G. Niroshan queried why a payment had to be made to the Chinese company when cranes would only arrive in 2023. 

“The agreement calls for 20% to be paid by 31 December 2021, which is over $ 50 million. Why pay it two years early?” Niroshan questioned, pointing out that Sri Lanka was facing a foreign currency crisis and desperately needed to retain forex. 

“We are making this payment unnecessarily early and at a time when there is a foreign exchange crisis and valuable dollars are needed,” Niroshan stressed, charging that the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) Director of Finance had objected. 

Meanwhile, SLPA Managing Director Upul Jayatissa said that the payment of 20% had been made. “The payment was made by 31 December. The total payment cost is $ 283 million,” Jayatissa said. He noted that an advanced payment was necessary as part of the agreement of the deal to procure the cranes from China. “A Letter of Credit must be opened in these sort of procurement processes and an advance payment must be made. That is why we paid 20% by 31 December.”